Making a difference for minoritie...
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN SCIENCE TEACHING VOL. 41, NO. 9, PP. 861���881 (2004) Making a Difference for Minorities: Evaluation of an Educational Enrichment Program Amy E.L. Barlow, Merna Villarejo Division of Biological Sciences, Educational Enrichment and Outreach Programs, University of California, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616 Received 7 January 2003 Accepted 17 February 2004 Abstract: A comprehensive, quantitative evaluation of an educational intervention program designed to reduce the attrition of minorities from the biological sciences was undertaken to ascertain whether such efforts adequately address the problem. Program participants had greater odds of persisting in basic math and science courses, and of graduating in biology, than did a comparison group, controlling for demo- graphics and academic preparation. Undergraduate research greatly increased the odds of positive gradu- ation outcomes. Program participants were also more likely to pursue graduate study than were university graduates overall. This evaluation demonstrates the value of such programs in increasing the representation of minorities in science. �� 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 41: 861���881, 2004 Despite recent demographic shifts increasing the proportion of minority groups in the U.S. population, substantial differences in educational attainment continue to perpetuate racial and ethnic occupational segregation in the labor force. This is particularly acute for science occupations. Although underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics) comprised 24% of the working-age population in 1999, they formed only 7% of the science and engineering workforce in that year (National Science Foundation [NSF], 2000). Minority students are less likely than Whites and Asian Americans to complete high school and attend college, are less likely to complete a bachelors degree, and are hence less likely to pursue an advanced degree (NSF, 2000). Minority students entering college are at least as likely as White students to intend to pursue a science degree (NSF, 2002b), yet they are less likely to graduate in Contract grant sponsor: Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Biology Education Program Contract grant number: 52003079 Contract grant sponsor: Initiative for Minority Student Development Contract grant sponsor: National Institute of General Medical Sciences Contract grant number: 25GM 56765. Correspondence to: M. Villarejo E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org DOI 10.1002/tea.20029 Published online 7 October 2004 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). �� 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
their intended major. Only 27% of the Hispanic, African American, and Native American students who began college in 1989 intending to major in science or engineering graduated with a baccalaureate degree in one of those fields by 1994, compared with 46% of White and Asian students (Huang, Taddese, & Walter, 2000).1 The problem of underrepresentation becomes more extreme at higher levels of educational attainment. Although underrepresented minority students earned 15.7% of bachelors degrees in science and engineering in 2000, they earned a diminishing proportion of the advanced degrees in those fields: 8.8% of masters degrees and 5.9% of doctoral degrees (NSF, 2002a). Such disproportionate attrition has prompted a proliferation of special services and programs attempting to plug the leak in what has become known as the science ������pipeline.������ The approaches of these programs vary widely, some focusing solely on academic course work, some emphasizing research experience, and others providing reinforcements at the level of advising and self-esteem. However, few rigorous, quantitativeevaluations of these programs have been widely disseminated (Gandara & Maxwell-Jolly, 1999). This article attempts to fill this research void by presenting evaluation results of an educational enrichment program, the Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program (BUSP), at the University of California, Davis (UCD). BUSP was established in 1988 to address significant university-wide racial/ethnic disparities in graduation in the biological sciences.2 A campus study of the achievement gap during the mid- 1980s found that although 11% of freshman biology majors were from minority groups, the proportion of underrepresented minority students decreased to 7% by graduation a 36% greater attrition than that of majority group students (Villarejo & Tafoya, 1995). Among this small pool of minority biology graduates, relatively few were good candidates for graduate or professional school: the fraction of minority graduates with cumulative GPAs of 3.0 was about one half that of White graduates (Villarejo & Tafoya, 1995). To address this problem, the design of BUSP drew on the research literature on minority academic achievement and borrowed aspects of two pioneering programs for minority students, resulting in a program that addresses attrition from science majors through pedagogical and structural strategies. The calculus workshops at University of California at Berkeley address the fact that many underrepresented minority college students enter college less prepared in mathematics and science than majority students (Vetter, 1994 Schneider, 2000). The preparation differences are particularly extreme in mathematics: while approximately 6% of African American, Native American, and Hispanic 1998 high school graduates had taken calculus, twice as many Whites and three times as many Asian/Pacific Islanders had done so (NSF, 2002c). These deficits, in turn, decrease the likelihood of persisting in math and science majors. The Berkeley calculus workshops, initiated by Uri Treisman (Fullilove & Treisman, 1990), use challenging course work, coupled with a cooperative approach to problem solving, to promote minority student achievement. At Xavier University (Carmichael, Labat, Huter, Privett, & Sevenair, 1993), the Stress On Analytical Reasoning (SOAR) program elicited student success through a highly structured and enriched curriculum supported by a strong tutoring and advising system. (Academic and career advising, as performed in the SOAR program and many others, is also a central part of BUSP, although its efficacy remains unexplored in this article.) Underrepresented minority students are also less likely than majority students to possess the financial resources necessary to complete college unencumbered by excessivework schedules and large loans. One study found that 66% of Hispanics, 76% of African Americans, and 81% of Native Americans borrowed funds to complete their bachelors degrees in 1997 and 1998, compared with 59% of Whites and 56% of Asians (NSF, 2002d). Astin (1982) found that financial aid in the form of grants, rather than loans, are strongly associated with student persistence to graduation. Work- study programs in which students work on-campus less than 20 hours per week were particularly 862 BARLOW AND VILLAREJO
effective in facilitating student persistence, while working off-campus or more than 20 hours per week was associated with decreased likelihood of graduation. Finally, the research literature also suggests that underrepresented minority students may become socially isolated (Wilson, 2000) and that strong peer networks help reduce this isolation and provide academic support. Astin and Astin (1992) found that a strong peer group orientation is associated with increased persistence among science majors. In response to these concerns, BUSP attempts to foster academic success by providing academic, financial, and support services through the freshman and sophomore years at the university. Specifically, it provides supplemental academic instruction in General Chemistry, Calculus, and Introductory Biology academic and personal advising and practical experience and financial support through employment in research laboratories. It also attempts to develop strong peer networks through the small size of the program, the intensive nature of the sup- plemental instruction, and the use of facilitated study groups. BUSP requires students to attend a series of supplemental workshops for the crucial ������gatekeeper������ courses. Workshops begin with a quarter-long Pre-Chemistry course prior to enrolling in General Chemistry, plus 2 hours per week of chemistry workshops to supplement General Chemistry instruction. BUSP students were also required to attend supplementary Cal- culus workshops for 2 hours per week. The Pre-Chemistry course and supplementary workshops were small, with no more than 25 students per class, and emphasized problem solving and group work. Comparison Group students did not have access tosupplementarychemistry instruction, but could choose to participate in the calculus workshops if they wished. Participation in laboratory research is a major part of the BUSP design, but is not mandatory. During the period under study, students were encouraged to begin working in a research laboratory as soon as possible, frequently in the freshman year. Responses to surveys and interviews have suggested that the opportunity to work in a research laboratory was a significant draw for students opting to participate in the program. As a result, 70% of BUSP students chose to work in a laboratory for at least one term. Faculty mentors were asked to provide a developmental experience for the students, that is, to introduce beginning students to the laboratory environment by starting with simple laboratory tasks, advancing to more challenging activities as students demonstrate competence at each level. Research participation has long been held to increase the probability of students persisting in science majors, but very little research has investigated the issue. In a rare empirical study of the impact of research participation on persistence in science majors, Astin and Astin (1992) found a consistent association between participating in a professor���s research project and persistence in���or recruitment into���a science major. The BUSP model, including academic enrichment, advising, and research experience, is a costly investment of faculty and staff time, and institutional and foundation funds. To determine whether this investment is justified, this study asks whether BUSP participation made a difference in the academic performance and graduation outcomes of the 397 students who entered BUSP during the period 1988���1994. This article examines only the quantifiable aspects of the program, with more qualitative indicators to be examined later. First, we ask whether program participation increased persistence and performance in basic math and science courses and examine the effect of supplemental workshops on course performance. We then measure the impact of overall program participation on graduation outcomes, and ask whether participation in laboratory research improved graduation rates. These analyses are performed using multivariate analysis, controlling for demographic attributes and academic preparation. Finally, to determine the enduring effects of the program on the science pipeline, we look at student postgraduation educational and career activities. EVALUATION OF AN EDUCATIONAL ENRICHMENT PROGRAM 863