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Title: Physically Disabled Students in Summer Undergraduate Research Environments
Contribution: This study uncovered specific benefits, challenges, and facilitators to participating in undergraduate research for physically disabled students (PDSs) taken directly from students themselves. Background: Disabled students (DSs) earn bachelor's degrees and gain employment in STEM careers at rates lower than their peers. The paradigm shift in undergraduate STEM education from lecture-based to inquiry-based learning is an opportunity to explore new options for including DSs. Little is known about designing inquiry-based learning settings for DSs. Research Question: This article seeks to increase the understanding of how to support PDSs in inquiry-based settings. Specifically, the authors documented the experiences of PDS in a summer undergraduate research program to uncover: 1) benefits they receive from participating; 2) specific challenges these students face; and 3) novel ways to facilitate participation. Methodology: The authors conducted semistructured interviews of five undergraduate PDS, who participated in a summer research program. The paper reports representative student responses across themes related to benefits, challenges, and facilitators of success in the program. Findings: The students enjoyed many benefits typically gained from undergraduate research, most notably career clarification. Additionally, the students experienced personal growth, including improved self-advocacy, increased confidence in their independence, and greater understanding of limitations. The main facilitator more » was the positive attitudes of research mentors. A principal challenge was the lack of knowledge about disability in peers without disabilities who participated in the program. « less
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IEEE Transactions on Education
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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Approach (e.g., objectives/specific aims, research methodologies, and analysis) Research Question and Methodology: We want to know: How does participation in a micro-internship affect students’ interest and confidence to pursue STEM? We used a mixed-methods design triangulating quantitative Likert-style survey data with interpretive coding of open-responses to reveal themes in students’ motivations, attitudes toward STEM, and confidence. Participants: The study sampled students enrolled either part-time or full-time at the community college. Although each MI was classified within STEM, they were open to any interested student in any major. Demographically, participants self-identified as 70% Hispanic/Latinx, 13% Mixed-Race, and 42 female. Instrument: Student surveys were developed from two previously validated instruments that examine the impact of the MI intervention on student interest in STEM careers and pursuing internships/REUs. Also, the pre- and post (every e months to assess longitudinal outcomes) -surveys included relevant open response prompts. The surveys collected students’ demographics; interest, confidence, and motivation in pursuing a career in STEM; perceived obstacles; and past experiences with internships and MIs. 171 students responded to the pre-survey at the time of submission. Outcomes (e.g., preliminary findings, accomplishments to date) Because we just finished year 1, we lack at this time longitudinal data to reveal if student confidence is maintained over time and whether or not students are more likely to (i) enroll in more internships, (ii) transfer to a four-year university, or (iii) shorten the time it takes for degree attainment. For short term outcomes, students significantly Increased their confidence to continue pursuing opportunities to develop within the STEM pipeline, including full-length internships, completing STEM degrees, and applying for jobs in STEM. For example, using a 2-tailed t-test we compared means before and after the MI experience. 15 out of 16 questions that showed improvement in scores were related to student confidence to pursue STEM or perceived enjoyment of a STEM career. Finding from the free-response questions, showed that the majority of students reported enrolling in the MI to gain knowledge and experience. After the MI, 66% of students reported having gained valuable knowledge and experience, and 35% of students spoke about gaining confidence and/or momentum to pursue STEM as a career. Broader Impacts (e.g., the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM; development of a diverse STEM workforce, enhanced infrastructure for research and education) The ESTEEM project has the potential for a transformational impact on STEM undergraduate education’s access and success for underrepresented and Latinx community college students, as well as for STEM capacity building at Hartnell College, a CCC and HSI, for students, faculty, professionals, and processes that foster research in STEM and education. Through sharing and transfer abilities of the ESTEEM model to similar institutions, the project has the potential to change the way students are served at an early and critical stage of their higher education experience at CCC, where one in every five community college student in the nation attends a CCC, over 67% of CCC students identify themselves with ethnic backgrounds that are not White, and 40 to 50% of University of California and California State University graduates in STEM started at a CCC, thus making it a key leverage point for recruiting and retaining a more diverse STEM workforce.« less