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Outside mentoring support for science faculty at minority-serving institutions pays off
Date:9/4/2013

in 2004. Among African-American college students, for example, 58% were enrolled in an MSI in 2004. Among Hispanics, the percentage was 63.3. The study led by Campbell and David Asai, PhD, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, point to a warning in a 2011 National Academy of Sciences report that the low percentage of American minorities in the STEM professions would likely impede U.S. scientific progress over time. The best way, the authors argue, to improve STEM education for minorities right now is to improve the professional development of MSI science faculty. The best way to do that is show them how to conduct "inquiry-based learning" through research-based laboratory courses.

For the VP Program, the faculty members themselves did not have to be from minority groups, only that they taught at a MSI. The resulting study group of 32 VP Program participants included 19 African Americans, four Asians, three European Americans, and six Hispanics. Nineteen were women. Faculty positions at MSIs tend to be teaching heavy and research light. Advanced equipment is in short supply as are consumables, model organisms, and dedicated research space.

The VP Program paired these MSI faculty with host scientists at research-intensive institutions for 8-10 week training internships. The host scientists were largely accomplished scholars with major research credits, long graduate teaching experience, and well supported research programs. Beyond immersion in discovery science, the VP participants were also involved in career development workshops, scientific meeting presentations, and the difficult art of writing papers and grant proposals. "It is likely that the effectiveness of the VP Program is due in no small part to the program being one of a suite of opportunities offered to these scientists," the authors concluded.

The authors describe their study as only a first step in bringing scientific analysis to the educational and cultural problem of cr
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Contact: John Fleischman
jfleischman@ascb.org
513-706-0212
American Society for Cell Biology
Source:Eurekalert

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