GP EXTRA: Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success GEO-REU: Evaluation Design
A poster presentation will describe the evaluation design of a recently funded project to increase the number of URM students engaged in geoscience graduate programs or geoscience-related professions. Since its inception in 2003, the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success (MS PHDﾒS) in Earth System Science program has provided professional development, mentoring and participant community support for 223 students. Of these, 95 have completed degrees and are employed in geoscience fields and the remainder are enrolled in geoscience degree programs. Comprehensive impact evaluation is difficult and often more costly than the budgets of small undergraduate research programs can support. This evaluation project demonstrates a low-cost and novel approach to utilizing comparison groups for impact evaluation, which could be replicated by other small programs and provide clearer results on program impacts.
The goal of the larger project is to increase the number of URM students engaged in geoscience graduate programs or geoscience-related professions. While previous evaluation design for this long-running program have had a formative focus, the design for the newest project will examine undergraduate persistence, post-graduate academic, and/or STEM career decisions outcomes of participants compared to similar applicants who were not selected as participants.
The evaluation will focus on one cohort per year with a minimum sampling frame of 45 per cohort and minimum total of 135 for the three-year project. The target population for this impact evaluation consists of students who previously participated in an REU and applied to participate in MS PHDﾒS GEO-REU. Propensity score matching (PSM) will be used to select a representative comparison group of applicants who were not selected as participants. To answer the research questions posed as part of this evaluation, evaluators will undertake a mixed method approach. They will examine the correlation among quantitative data with participation in the program, and further correlation with specific program activities, and conduct qualitative analysis to examine the similarities and differences among prevailing themes observed in the results of questionnaires completed by participants vs. comparable non-participants.
The project will establish the effectiveness and validity of the proposed evaluation design, which will in turn allow other small-scale programs to confidently adopt and adapt similar approaches to designing and conducting impact evaluation. If such evaluations can establish the effectiveness of specific broadening participation strategies, future evaluation designs and program designs for Geoscience programs will improve URM participation in Geoscience careers.
This project is in its first year. Over a period of 3 years, this project will directly engage 45 URM undergraduate students and 9 near-peer student mentors in mentoring, professional development, and career exposure activities, while fostering collegial relationships that will provide opportunities, assistance, as well as positive reinforcement of academic and professional career goals/decisions into the future. The evaluation design will provide validation and refinement of program strategies, and dissemination of results through published articles and at Geoscience and general STEM professional conference oral sessions will constitute a lasting contribution to the Geoscience community and its broadening participation efforts in the future.
MS PHD'S-GEO REU: PROMOTING RETENTION, INCLUSIVITY AND MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT IN THE GEOSCIENCES FOR URM PARTICIPANTS OF NSF REU PROGRAMS, GSA Abstracts with Programs Vol. 47, No. 7.