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- International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
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- National Science Foundation
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Background Social networks such as Twitter offer the clinical research community a novel opportunity for engaging potential study participants based on user activity data. However, the availability of public social media data has led to new ethical challenges about respecting user privacy and the appropriateness of monitoring social media for clinical trial recruitment. Researchers have voiced the need for involving users’ perspectives in the development of ethical norms and regulations. Objective This study examined the attitudes and level of concern among Twitter users and nonusers about using Twitter for monitoring social media users and their conversations to recruit potential clinical trial participants. Methods We used two online methods for recruiting study participants: the open survey was (1) advertised on Twitter between May 23 and June 8, 2017, and (2) deployed on TurkPrime, a crowdsourcing data acquisition platform, between May 23 and June 8, 2017. Eligible participants were adults, 18 years of age or older, who lived in the United States. People with and without Twitter accounts were included in the study. Results While nearly half the respondents—on Twitter (94/603, 15.6%) and on TurkPrime (509/603, 84.4%)—indicated agreement that social media monitoring constitutes a form of eavesdropping that invades their privacy, over one-third disagreed and nearly 1 in 5 had no opinion. A chi-square test revealed a positive relationship between respondents’ general privacy concern and their average concern about Internet research (P<.005). We found associations between respondents’ Twitter literacy and their concerns about the ability for researchers to monitor their Twitter activity for clinical trial recruitment (P=.001) and whether they consider Twitter monitoring for clinical trial recruitment as eavesdropping (P<.001) and an invasion of privacy (P=.003). As Twitter literacy increased, so did people’s concerns about researchers monitoring Twitter activity. Our data support the previously suggested use of the nonexceptionalist methodology for assessing social media in research, insofar as social media-based recruitment does not need to be considered exceptional and, for most, it is considered preferable to traditional in-person interventions at physical clinics. The expressed attitudes were highly contextual, depending on factors such as the type of disease or health topic (eg, HIV/AIDS vs obesity vs smoking), the entity or person monitoring users on Twitter, and the monitored information. Conclusions The data and findings from this study contribute to the critical dialogue with the public about the use of social media in clinical research. The findings suggest that most users do not think that monitoring Twitter for clinical trial recruitment constitutes inappropriate surveillance or a violation of privacy. However, researchers should remain mindful that some participants might find social media monitoring problematic when connected with certain conditions or health topics. Further research should isolate factors that influence the level of concern among social media users across platforms and populations and inform the development of more clear and consistent guidelines.more » « less
The United States continues to invest considerable resources into developing the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent. Efforts to shore up interest in pursuing STEM careers span decades and have increasingly focused on boosting interest among diverse student populations. Policymakers have called for engaging students in a greater STEM ecology of support that extends beyond the traditional classroom environment to increase student STEM career interest. Yet, few robust studies exist exploring the efficacy of many programmatic efforts and initiatives outside the regular curriculum intended to foster STEM interest. To maximize STEM education investments, promote wise policies, and help achieve the aim of creating STEM learning ecosystems that benefit diverse student populations and meet the nation’s STEM goals, it is crucial to examine the effectiveness of these kinds of STEM education initiatives in promoting STEM career aspirations.
The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to examine the impact of one popular, yet understudied, STEM education initiative on students’ STEM career aspirations: participation in a university- or college-run STEM club or program activity (CPA) during high school. Specifically, we studied whether participation in a college-run STEM CPA at a postsecondary institution during high school was related to college-going students’ STEM career aspirations, and we examined whether that relationship differed depending on student characteristics and prior STEM interests.
We conducted a quasi-experimental investigation to explore the impact of participation in university- or college-run STEM CPAs on college-going students’ STEM career aspirations. We administered a retrospective cohort survey to students at 27 colleges and universities nationwide resulting in a sample of 15,847 respondents. An inverse probability of treatment weighted logistic regression model with a robust set of controls was computed to estimate the odds of expressing STEM career aspirations among those who participated in college-run STEM CPAs compared with the odds expressed among students who did not participate. Our weighting accounted for self-selection effects.
Quasi-experimental modeling results indicated that participation in university- or college-run STEM CPAs had a significant impact on the odds that college-going students would express STEM career aspirations relative to students who did not participate. The odds of expressing interest in a STEM career among participants in STEM CPAs were 1.49 times those of the control group. Robustness checks confirmed our results. The result held true for students whether or not they expressed interest in STEM careers prior to participation in STEM CPAs, and it held true across a diverse range of student characteristics (e.g., race, parental education, gender, standardized test scores, and family/school encouragement).
Results suggest that university- and college-run STEM CPAs play an important role in the STEM education ecology, serving the national goal of expanding the pool of college-going students who aspire to STEM careers. Moreover, results showed that participation in university- and college-run STEM CPAs during high school is equally effective across diverse student characteristics. Policymakers, educators, and those charged with making investment decisions in STEM education should seriously consider university- and college-run STEM CPAs as a promising vehicle to promote diverse students’ STEM career aspirations in the broader STEM learning ecosystem and as an important complement to other STEM learning environments.
Abstract Expert testimony varies in scientific quality and jurors have a difficult time evaluating evidence quality (McAuliff et al., 2009). In the current study, we apply Fuzzy Trace Theory principles, examining whether visual and gist aids help jurors calibrate to the strength of scientific evidence. Additionally we were interested in the role of jurors’ individual differences in scientific reasoning skills in their understanding of case evidence. Contrary to our preregistered hypotheses, there was no effect of evidence condition or gist aid on evidence understanding. However, individual differences between jurors’ numeracy skills predicted evidence understanding. Summary Poor-quality expert evidence is sometimes admitted into court (Smithburn, 2004). Jurors’ calibration to evidence strength varies widely and is not robustly understood. For instance, previous research has established jurors lack understanding of the role of control groups, confounds, and sample sizes in scientific research (McAuliff, Kovera, & Nunez, 2009; Mill, Gray, & Mandel, 1994). Still others have found that jurors can distinguish weak from strong evidence when the evidence is presented alone, yet not when simultaneously presented with case details (Smith, Bull, & Holliday, 2011). This research highlights the need to present evidence to jurors in a way they can understand. Fuzzy Trace Theory purports that people encode information in exact, verbatim representations and through “gist” representations, which represent summary of meaning (Reyna & Brainerd, 1995). It is possible that the presenting complex scientific evidence to people with verbatim content or appealing to the gist, or bottom-line meaning of the information may influence juror understanding of that evidence. Application of Fuzzy Trace Theory in the medical field has shown that gist representations are beneficial for helping laypeople better understand risk and benefits of medical treatment (Brust-Renck, Reyna, Wilhelms, & Lazar, 2016). Yet, little research has applied Fuzzy Trace Theory to information comprehension and application within the context of a jury (c.f. Reyna et. al., 2015). Additionally, it is likely that jurors’ individual characteristics, such as scientific reasoning abilities and cognitive tendencies, influence their ability to understand and apply complex scientific information (Coutinho, 2006). Methods The purpose of this study was to examine how jurors calibrate to the strength of scientific information, and whether individual difference variables and gist aids inspired by Fuzzy Trace Theory help jurors better understand complicated science of differing quality. We used a 2 (quality of scientific evidence: high vs. low) x 2 (decision aid to improve calibration - gist information vs. no gist information), between-subjects design. All hypotheses were preregistered on the Open Science Framework. Jury-eligible community participants (430 jurors across 90 juries; Mage = 37.58, SD = 16.17, 58% female, 56.93% White). Each jury was randomly assigned to one of the four possible conditions. Participants were asked to individually fill out measures related to their scientific reasoning skills prior to watching a mock jury trial. The trial was about an armed bank robbery and consisted of various pieces of testimony and evidence (e.g. an eyewitness testimony, police lineup identification, and a sweatshirt found with the stolen bank money). The key piece of evidence was mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) evidence collected from hair on a sweatshirt (materials from Hans et al., 2011). Two experts presented opposing opinions about the scientific evidence related to the mtDNA match estimate for the defendant’s identification. The quality and content of this mtDNA evidence differed based on the two conditions. The high quality evidence condition used a larger database than the low quality evidence to compare to the mtDNA sample and could exclude a larger percentage of people. In the decision aid condition, experts in the gist information group presented gist aid inspired visuals and examples to help explain the proportion of people that could not be excluded as a match. Those in the no gist information group were not given any aid to help them understand the mtDNA evidence presented. After viewing the trial, participants filled out a questionnaire on how well they understood the mtDNA evidence and their overall judgments of the case (e.g. verdict, witness credibility, scientific evidence strength). They filled this questionnaire out again after a 45-minute deliberation. Measures We measured Attitudes Toward Science (ATS) with indices of scientific promise and scientific reservations (Hans et al., 2011; originally developed by National Science Board, 2004; 2006). We used Drummond and Fischhoff’s (2015) Scientific Reasoning Scale (SRS) to measure scientific reasoning skills. Weller et al.’s (2012) Numeracy Scale (WNS) measured proficiency in reasoning with quantitative information. The NFC-Short Form (Cacioppo et al., 1984) measured need for cognition. We developed a 20-item multiple-choice comprehension test for the mtDNA scientific information in the cases (modeled on Hans et al., 2011, and McAuliff et al., 2009). Participants were shown 20 statements related to DNA evidence and asked whether these statements were True or False. The test was then scored out of 20 points. Results For this project, we measured calibration to the scientific evidence in a few different ways. We are building a full model with these various operationalizations to be presented at APLS, but focus only on one of the calibration DVs (i.e., objective understanding of the mtDNA evidence) in the current proposal. We conducted a general linear model with total score on the mtDNA understanding measure as the DV and quality of scientific evidence condition, decision aid condition, and the four individual difference measures (i.e., NFC, ATS, WNS, and SRS) as predictors. Contrary to our main hypotheses, neither evidence quality nor decision aid condition affected juror understanding. However, the individual difference variables did: we found significant main effects for Scientific Reasoning Skills, F(1, 427) = 16.03, p <.001, np2 = .04, Weller Numeracy Scale, F(1, 427) = 15.19, p <.001, np2 = .03, and Need for Cognition, F(1, 427) = 16.80, p <.001, np2 = .04, such that those who scored higher on these measures displayed better understanding of the scientific evidence. In addition there was a significant interaction of evidence quality condition and scores on the Weller’s Numeracy Scale, F(1, 427) = 4.10, p = .04, np2 = .01. Further results will be discussed. Discussion These data suggest jurors are not sensitive to differences in the quality of scientific mtDNA evidence, and also that our attempt at helping sensitize them with Fuzzy Trace Theory-inspired aids did not improve calibration. Individual scientific reasoning abilities and general cognition styles were better predictors of understanding this scientific information. These results suggest a need for further exploration of approaches to help jurors differentiate between high and low quality evidence. Note: The 3rd author was supported by an AP-LS AP Award for her role in this research. Learning Objective: Participants will be able to describe how individual differences in scientific reasoning skills help jurors understand complex scientific evidence.more » « less
First-generation (FG) and/or low-income (LI) engineering student populations are of particular interest in engineering education. However, these populations are not defined in a consistent manner across the literature or amongst stakeholders. The intersectional identities of these groups have also not been fully explored in most quantitative-based engineering education research. This research paper aims to answer the following three research questions: (RQ1) How do students’ demographic characteristics and college experiences differ depending on levels of parent educational attainment (which forms the basis of first-generation definitions) and family income? (RQ2) How do ‘first-generation’ and ‘low-income’ definitions impact results comparing to their continuing-generation and higher-income peers? (RQ3) How does considering first-generation and low-income identities through an intersectional lens deepen insight into the experiences of first-generation and low-income groups? Data were drawn from a nationally representative survey of engineering juniors and seniors (n = 6197 from 27 U.S. institutions). Statistical analyses were conducted to evaluate respondent differences in demographics (underrepresented racial/ethnic minority (URM), women, URM women), college experiences (internships/co-ops, having a job, conducting research, and study abroad), and engineering task self-efficacy (ETSE), based on various definitions of ‘first generation’ and ‘low income’ depending on levels of parental educational attainment and self-reported family income. Our results indicate that categorizing a first-generation student as someone whose parents have less than an associate’s degree versus less than a bachelor’s degree may lead to different understandings of their experiences (RQ1). For example, the proportion of URM students is higher among those whose parents have less than an associate’s degree than among their “associate’s degree or more” peers (26% vs 11.9%). However, differences in college experiences are most pronounced among students whose parents have less than a bachelor’s degree compared with their “bachelor’s degree or more” peers: having a job to help pay for college (55.4% vs 47.3%), research with faculty (22.7% vs 35.0%), and study abroad (9.0% vs 17.3%). With respect to differences by income levels, respondents are statistically different across income groups, with fewer URM students as family income level increases. As family income level increases, there are more women in aggregate, but fewer URM women. College experiences are different for the middle income or higher group (internship 48.4% low and lower-middle income vs 59.0% middle income or higher; study abroad 11.2% vs 16.4%; job 58.6% vs 46.8%). Despite these differences in demographic characteristics and college experiences depending on parental educational attainment and family income, our dataset indicates that the definition does not change the statistical significance when comparing between first-generation students and students who were continuing-generation by any definition (RQ2). First-generation and low-income statuses are often used as proxies for one another, and in this dataset, are highly correlated. However, there are unique patterns at the intersection of these two identities. For the purpose of our RQ3 analysis, we define ‘first-generation’ as students whose parents earned less than a bachelor’s degree and ‘low-income’ as low or lower-middle income. In this sample, 68 percent of students were neither FG nor LI while 11 percent were both (FG&LI). On no measure of demographics or college experience is the FG&LI group statistically similar to the advantaged group. Low-income students had the highest participation in working to pay for college, regardless of parental education, while first-generation students had the lower internship participation than low-income students. Furthermore, being FG&LI is associated with lower ETSE compared with all other groups. These results suggest that care is required when applying the labels “first-generation” and/or “low-income” when considering these groups in developing institutional support programs, in engineering education research, and in educational policy. Moreover, by considering first-generation and low-income students with an intersectional lens, we gain deeper insight into engineering student populations that may reveal potential opportunities and barriers to educational resources and experiences that are an important part of preparation for an engineering career.more » « less
Currently, substantial efforts are underway to improve the engagement and retention of engineering and computer science (E/CS) students in their academic programs. Student participation in specific activities known as High Impact Educational Practices (HIP) has been shown to improve student outcomes across a variety of degree fields. Thus, we suggest that understanding how and why E/CS students, especially those from historically underrepresented groups, participate in HIP is vital for supporting efforts aimed at improving E/CS student engagement and retention. The aim of the current study is to examine the participation of E/CS undergraduates enrolled at two western land-grant institutions (both institutions are predominantly white; one is an emerging Hispanic-serving institution) across five HIEP (i.e., global learning and study aboard internships, learning communities, service and community-based learning, and undergraduate research) that are offered outside of required E/CS curricula and are widely documented in the research literature. As part of a larger study, researchers developed an online questionnaire to explore student HIP participation and then surveyed E/CS students (n = 576) across both land-grant institutions. Subsequently, researchers will use survey results to inform the development of focus groups interview protocols. Focus group interviews will be conducted with purposefully selected E/CS students who participated in the survey. Combined survey and focus group data will then be analyzed to more deeply understand why and how E/CS students participate in the HIP at their university. This research paper reports on the frequency distribution analysis of the survey data generated with E/CS undergraduates enrolled at one of the two land grant institutions. The combined sample included E/CS undergraduates from the following demographic groups: female (34 %), Asian (10 %), Black or African American (2%), Hispanic or Latinx (6%), Native American or Alaskan Native (1%), Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (1%), White (81 %), and multiracial (4 %). Results show that most (38%) E/CS students reported participating in internships, while study abroad programs garnered the smallest level of E/CS student participation (5%) across all five HIP. Internships were found most likely to engage diverse students: Female (42%), Hispanic or Latinx (24%), Multiracial (44%), Asian (31%), First-generation (29%), and nontraditional students—other than those categorized as highly nontraditional—all reported participating in internships more than any other HIP. Notable differences in participation across E/CS and demographic groups were found for other HIPs. Results further revealed that 43% of respondents did not participate in any extracurricular HIP and only 19% participated in two or more HIP. Insights derived from the survey and used to inform ongoing quantitative and qualitative analyses are discussed. Keywords: community-based learning, high impact educational practices, HIP, internships learning communities, service learning, study aboard, undergraduate researchmore » « less