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Exploring transfer student beliefs and perceptions about research and research-inclusive careers Tola Ewers, M.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring transfer student beliefs and perceptions about research and research-inclusive careers Tola Ewers, M.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring transfer student beliefs and perceptions about research and research-inclusive careers Tola Ewers, M.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

2 Meet the speaker  Tola Ewers, M.S. Transfer student from the start 1.Kindergarten – Harris School 2.Grades 1-3 – Cazenovia Elementary School 3.Grade 4 – Hackett Elementary School in fall 4.Grade 4 – Cazenovia Elementary School in spring 5.Grade 5 – Lime Ridge Elementary School in fall 6.Grade 5 – College Park Elementary School in spring 7.Grade 6 – College Park Elementary School 8.Grade 7 – Greendale Intermediate School in fall 9.Grades 7-9 – Koscziousko Junior High School 10.Grade 9 – Walker Junior High School 11.Grade 10 – Webb High School 12.Grades – Baraboo Senior High School 13.Madison Area Technical College – 3 semesters 14.Milwaukee Area Technical College – 1 semester 15.University of Wisconsin-Richland – 1 semester 16.Madison Area Technical College – 3 semesters 17.University of Wisconsin-Stout – 1 distance education class 18.University of Wisconsin-Madison – 4+ semesters, B.A., History 19.University of Wisconsin-Madison – M.S., Curriculum & Instruction 20.University of Wisconsin-Madison, PhD candidate, ELPA Professional life… 17 years in the news industry ( ) 14+ years in higher education (1997-present)

3 The agenda  Morning exercise  Study rationale  Conceptual model  Methodology  Results and Insights  Limitations  Acknowledgments

4 Morning exercise Eye opener  Images of research  Undergraduate major Front of room Natural Sciences  Biology or “life sciences”  Chemistry  Earth sciences  Mathematics  Physics Humanities  Art and art history  History  Languages  Literature  Music  Philosophy  Religious Studies Social Sciences  Anthropology  Economics  Political science  Psychology  Sociology Applied Professions  Business (and subfields)  Communication (and subfields)  Criminal justice  Education  Engineering (and subfields)  Law  Social work  Nursing  Medicine (pre-professional)

5 Morning exercise Eye opener

6 “We need to broaden students understanding of the breadth of research – that it doesn’t just happen in biology and chemistry, but also in history.” Dr. Leonard Peters Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Virginia Tech Food for thought Accessed on April 21, 2010 from:

7 Study Rationale  Enrollment in and completion of post-secondary education is viewed as necessary and important for individuals and society  A plethora of points of access to higher education  Recognized need for baccalaureate degrees and beyond  Focus on STEM disciplines  Careers with a research component  Garnering human capital from alternative sources, i.e. underrepresented populations  Transfer students  Engagement in research learning experiences

8 “It is clear that undergraduate research … is beneficial. For students, the opportunity to define a problem and work toward a solution that might have practical, real-life applications constitutes significant value. Students are more likely to engage actively in the total learning process when their curiosity is stimulated by the research question. Solving research problems can help students to … gain confidence in their own intellectual abilities. [Engaging in] undergraduate research can encourage students to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate degree … [Students] learn to handle ambiguity, to accept the fact that the research project doesn’t always work out as expected. And perhaps most importantly, undergraduates will develop the habit of asking “what if” and “why not” questions that can lead to new discoveries or new ways of improving the practice of their careers.” Food for thought Beckman, M., & Hensel, N. (2009). Making explicit the implicit: Defining undergraduate research. Council on Undergraduate Research, 29 (4),

9  To understand transfer students’ perceptions of their research learning experiences and determine how those experiences shape their attitudes toward research and decisions toward furthering their education or career in science, medicine and/or research.  How do transfer students’ research learning activities influence how they know, do, and perceive research?  How do transfer students’ research learning experiences influence their interests and attitudes toward a research career in science fields? Purposeand the guiding questions

10 Conceptual Model Scientific Knowledge (cognitive) Attitudes & Perceptions of Research (affective) Research Skills (psychomotor) Research Activities in Context Learning Anticipated Career Outcomes Interests, Goals & Actions Research Self-efficacy Components of conceptual model as adapted by L.L. Bakken are based on an extension of Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown & Hackett, 1994)

11 Defining moments Anticipated Career Outcomes Interests, Goals & Actions Research Self-efficacy Social Cognitive Career Theory

12  Social Cognitive Career Theory Threefold framework (self-efficacy, outcome expectations and personal goals) focusing on the processes through which academic and career interests develop, how those interests promote career choices, and how people attain varying levels of performance and persistence in their educational and career pursuits  Self-efficacy refers to one’s belief in one’s ability to accomplish a task  Outcome expectations are what one expects to happen as a result of an action  Personal goals are the motivating factors for engaging in a behavior and afford one the opportunity to exercise agency Defining moments Lent, R.W., & Brown, S.D. (1996). Social cognitive approach to career development: An overview. Career Development Quarterly, 44 (4), 310.

13 Defining moments Scientific Knowledge (cognitive) Attitudes & Perceptions of Research (affective) Research Skills (psychomotor) Research Activities in Context Learning

14  Research activity in a context  Research skills (the psychomotor domain) are the tangible display of competent research behaviors, i.e., the ability to formulate a research question, analyze the literature, collect data, write and orally present results  Scientific knowledge (the cognitive domain) includes an understanding of research methodology and discipline-specific tenets  Attitudes and perceptions of research (the affective domain) reflects one’s feelings – negative or positive – towards research and how one processes those feelings Anticipated Career Outcomes Defining moments Bakken L, Byars-Winston A, Gundermann D, Ward E, Slattery A, King A. Effects of an Educational Intervention on Female Biomedical Scientists' Research Self- efficacy. Advances in Health Sciences Education 2009;15(2):

15  Added 3 transfer student focus groups (one all male, one all female, and one mixed gender) to an already institutional review board-approved study with a slightly modified demographic questionnaire to capture transfer institution data  Sent a mass recruitment via a list generated by the registrar’s office to 1,124 undergraduates from select majors whose academic records reflect college credits earned at institution(s) other than UW-Madison (advance placement credits were not included)  23 students responded to the within 36 hours of the distribution; 11 students met inclusion criteria and were available to participate in the scheduled focus groups – 6 women and 5 men  The one-hour focus groups were held at a campus location on a Sunday afternoon; participants provided informed consent and were served pizza and a beverage  The focus groups were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded by members of the research team What we did

16  Icebreaker question: Tell me your first name and where you are in your family’s birth order.  Tell me about the research learning experiences you’ve had so far. PROBES: Tell me more about [any specific source of learning they identify – classroom, internship, popular culture, what they’ve heard from peers or other people’s experiences]. What kinds of research have you been exposed to?  What images come to mind when you think about research? PROBES: Where does it occur? Whom does it involve?  What are the benefits of research, and who benefits from it? PROBE: Is the outcome relating to a personal, community, or national / global benefit? Focus Group Script

17  Do you envision research as part of your academic and/or career goals? In what ways?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of a research career? PROBE: How does it contribute to or detract from personal and professional goals?  Assuming that laboratory research is the focus of the discussion and answers, we will ask: If you were provided with learning opportunities to conduct research with communities or people (as participants/subjects), would it change your answers to the questions asked so far and if so how? Focus Group Script

18 Demo- graphic Form

19 Results  Descriptive data  Identified themes/insights  Verbatim perceptions

20 Our Participants (n=11) Age < 20Age 21-24Age >24Research in High School Research at College Men11302 Women31202 Class standingSophomoreJuniorSenior Men113 Women222 Educational aspirations Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Degree* Doctorate (PhD, EdD, DNP)* Professional (DVM, JD, MD, DO)* Men2111 Women11 or 2 or 31 or 2 *Women’s degree aspirations tied to potential career plans – consideration of trajectories only requiring master’s

21 PseudonymMajorFormal college research exp Degree expectation Career aspirationCareer with research BenZoologyNoDoctorateResearch professorYes CarrieNursing NoBachelorNurseYes, for practice ColleenOccupational Therapy YesMaster’sOccupational therapistYes, for practice JuliePharmacology & Toxicology YesDoctorateIndustrial research or professor Yes KimberlyBiologyNoMDPhysicianMaybe LeeChemical Engineering YesBachelorIndustry R&DYes LisaKinesiologyNoMaster’s or Doctorate Wants to teach adultsMaybe NathanBiochemistryYesMDPhysicianYes, w/humans RichBiologyNoBachelorUndecidedMaybe SeanNursingNoMaster’sRN/MSN or NPYes, for practice VickiBiologyNoMaster’s or MDPA/PhysicianMaybe

22 PseudonymYearTransfer from in-state/out-of-state Time on campus Father’s occupation Mother’s occupation AgeBirth order BenJr4-yr public, out1st semesterCPAHR manager>241 of 6 Carrie Soph4-yr private, out1st semester Stats professorSchool secretary<201 of 2 ColleenJr4-yr public, in1st semesterBusiness MgmtPublic relations<202 of 3 JulieSr4-yr public, in7th semesterComputer programmer Braille transcriptionist of 3 KimberlySoph4-yr public, in1st semesterEconomic developer Speech/language pathologist <201 of 2 LeeSr2-yr private, out 2-yr & 4-yr public, out 3rd semesterCPADental hygienist>242 of 2 LisaSr2-yr public, in 2-yr & 4-yr public, out 5th semesterHeating & A/C>241 of 4 NathanSr4-yr public, out2nd semesterRestaurant ownerIT manager of 3 RichSoph4-yr private, in1st semesterDistrict attorneyAccountant<202 of 3 SeanSr4-yr public, in 2-yr public, in 3rd semesterPower plant mechanic Daycare worker>242 of 2 VickiJr2-yr public, in4th semesterFactory workerNon-profit director>243 of 3

23 Emerging Themes Research can be time consuming →Concern about being able to find balance Research has ethical implications →Need to ensure research is top quality Research may be filled with failure →Am I able to persevere if I fail? Research requires broad competency →If I’m a researcher, I need to be able to do it all Access to research learning experiences →How can I be competitive? Research program not needed for career →Staying “current” will suffice People who do research are smart →Am I smart enough to do research? Classroom research is contrived →Are my skills adequate for the real world? Technical skills are not research →Lack of vision for research applicability Making new discoveries is rewarding →There is a potential to have life-changing impact for many people; success erases frustration Research learning mostly occurs in class →Writing research papers, reading research articles, performing structured lab assignments AP SK AP RS SK AP SK RS RS AP RS AP=Attitudes and Perceptions RS=Research Skills SK=Scientific Knowledge

24 Emerging Themes Lack of research literacy by public/others →Researchers need to communicate effectively Research plans can follow personal interests →Experiences/background are influential Researcher identity takes time to develop →How do I learn to be a researcher? Real science happens outside of class →Course research curriculum is boring, limiting Working in a laboratory is unfulfilling →Doing research with people is exciting, rewarding and enjoyable, but can also add pressure to find good results Doing research can be for selfish motives →Check off list to make you competitive for medical school/graduate programs Industry research is controlled and stable →In industry, adequate resources and work stays at the office at end of the day, but may lack freedom for personal research agenda Complex research problems are complicated →Research may need to challenge traditional paradigms AP SK RS AP=Attitudes and Perceptions RS=Research Skills SK=Scientific Knowledge AP AP AP AP SK

25 Am I smart enough to do research? “I didn’t [take advance placement classes]. I wish I had. So many students in my program have taken so much science by the time they got to the university, and I have nothing. Well, I mean not that much … “ I often feel like I’m behind – like I’m not quite there when it comes to research.” How do I learn to be a researcher? I haven’t done things like job shadowing, so I’m doing a lot of my own research now to understand what it is to be a female researcher.” Lisa Kinesiology major Graduate school for master’s – perhaps eventually PhD Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills Scientific knowledge

26 Complexity means researchers may need to challenge traditional paradigms “The western researchers are really at palpable, tangible and researching to prove it. I don’t think you can always do that when it comes to things like chronic depression or some big things out there – I’d like to know how to do research on things that aren’t going to be tangible, palpable … There’s a lot of things out there that work, but we can’t prove it the way that we expect to prove it in research, and I get frustrated by that, and I want to know like how do you start to help the western mindset accept some of the things that are out there that’s not a soil sample …” Lisa Kinesiology major Graduate school for master’s – perhaps eventually PhD Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills Scientific knowledge

27 Researchers need to do top quality work; their efforts have ethical implications It kind of makes me think … that there can be really good research on a topic. I guess it’s so hard to know what to believe today, because there’s so much like – somebody can just make a claim without a lot of good evidence behind it. I think without any research – but if it gets power behind it and gets out to people – people start to believe in it, see all the hype about it. The average person wouldn’t delve deeper into and find out if it’s true. So you hear one thing and then you hear a contradiction to that the next day, it’s hard to trust anything – to know which one is more credible than the other. Colleen Pre-Occupational Therapy major Graduate school for master’s in Occupational Therapy Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Scientific knowledge

28 Research is time consuming, the process can be frustrating and stressful I think a drawback of being in a research career could be that you could put in a ton of work, a ton of time and it doesn’t have a guarantee of really being fruitful to you. Maybe you don’t reach the conclusion that you thought you would or you don’t reach really any conclusion with the data you collected or maybe you have brilliant breakthrough, but you are not able to be published, because you are just starting out and you do not have too much credibility. And when you think about [a researcher] doing something that’s super controversial, there’s a lot of stress on [the researcher], besides just the workload. Colleen Pre-Occupational Therapy major Graduate school for master’s in Occupational Therapy Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception

29 Research with people can add pressure “I think I might be inclined to do research with people, but at the same time I think there would be that much more pressure to it, because you’re actually seeing the people who you are working with and who your research would affect. So I think it’s nice when you can see who it will benefit, but there is also that like once you actually get to know a person and see that they’re tangible and physical, I think that it definitely adds an extra level of pressure and stress to come out with results that will benefit them.” Research program not needed for career Depending on how I enjoy my own research as I try to get into med school, I could continue with that – or you don’t necessarily as a doctor have to do it if you don’t like it. It kind of depends. Kimberly Biology major Medical school aspirations Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception

30 Am I smart enough to be a researcher? How can I be competitive? How do I learn to be a researcher? “I guess I kind of envision [research] like something way above my head... I have like no idea. Like they never really tell you when you transfer here how to find opportunities. You have to look at a website, and look for it yourself. It doesn’t feel very accessible at all … When I first transferred here, I just was focused on classes. Now that I’m getting more comfortable, I’m trying to put my foot in the water and talk to people like this, kind of see what’s out there. Figure out how to get into it and all that kind of thing. This is pretty much the first real step towards finding out. I’m not really sure of what to do. Probably send someone an . ” Vicki Biology major physician’s assistant or medical school aspirations Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills

31 Research program not needed for career “I think that once I get in or if I get in (to physicians’ assistant school), I wouldn’t do very much research after that. I want to get the qualification and start working.” Vicki Biology major physician’s assistant or medical school aspirations Making new discoveries is rewarding “You can be working on something for a very long time, and you can get a bad result. You can find something that disproves everything you’ve been working towards. There’s a lot of frustration. It’s very easy to lose your motivation, but that all kind of gets evened out when something works and you find out something really cool. That high you get from finding that out makes you forget all the pain that got you there.” Julie Pharmacology and Toxicology major Doctoral aspirations Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception

32 Research in industry limits individual, maintains work-life boundaries “ In industry, you are told what to do. If you have a mind that you prefer to think up your own things and pursue it on your own time, then industry wouldn’t be good for you for that reason … “In industry you go to work and you go home, and when you’re at home you don’t have to think about it anymore.” Research can be time consuming “I know that some of the professors I know they work like 60-hour weeks doing research and everything. So that’s kind of a disadvantage if you want to have a family and things like that and spend time outside of your laboratory.” Julie Pharmacology and Toxicology major Doctoral aspirations Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills

33 Difficulty in finding balance Well, the people I know who do research, they think about it all the time – they obsess over it. It’s a good place for them to be, but I feel like it’s kind of unbalanced … I want a family ; I’d want to spend time with them and not be at work all the time. Julie Pharmacology and Toxicology major Doctoral aspirations “I thought this would be a part-time job, but it feels like a full- time job. I go to classes and in-between I’m heading over to the lab to do something. Then I make it home, and I’ve got homework, but I also have stuff that I’m supposed to do for the lab … I haven’t worked out in a month, because I don’t have time. That’s kind of like a bummer for me, because I would like to have a certain lifestyle – to keep myself healthy and happy. Nathan Biochemistry major Medical school aspirations Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception

34 Research requires broad competency “Dr. K says that after awhile I’m going to be getting really involved in everything [in the lab]. Just because there’s so much work to be done, they can’t really have somebody who only does one thing – everybody has to be able to do it all.” Classroom research is contrived, not real science “I never really thought that as an undergraduate I could ever really be a part of any real research, because what do I know? I mean, I’m taking all these sciences classes, but I really don’t know anything is kind of what I thought.” Nathan Biochemistry major Medical school aspirations Was in ROTC at previous institution but didn’t commission Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills

35 Am I smart enough to do research? “Before I had this lab job, I would have told you that the first thing that I see when I think about research is going into a lab and doing one thing for some professor that you never talk to. Nowadays I think it’s just a huge undertaking. My boss is super smart and like the hardest working person ever. I don’t know if I could do what she does. ” Experiences/background are influential “Part of [my interest in my current lab job] is because my best friend is diabetic and … some of the things I’ve been doing for the pre-med program kind of exposed me to diabetic patients. Like last summer I went down to Central America and we set up a volunteer clinic. We had a lot of patients who had diabetes.” Nathan Biochemistry major Medical school Was in ROTC at previous institution but didn’t commission Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception

36 Doing research with people is exciting, rewarding and enjoyable “Like all of my education has been geared toward working in the lab, so if I were to do research with a community of people, I think that I wouldn’t have the right skill set for it, but at the same time … I feel that like day-to-day, I’d enjoy more interacting with people rather than mice … I’d much rather be learning peoples’ stories and stuff; it seems to be interesting and rewarding, which is sort of why I think the medical career is a little bit more agreeable to me.” Doing research can be for ‘selfish’ motive “[In talking with others, they say,] ‘I go into the lab for an hour on the weekend and I don’t see anybody. I just do the one thing and write down whatever I do, and at the end of it, I’ll get a recommendation letter. ’ I think that sounds terrible.” Nathan Biochemistry major Medical school aspirations Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills

37 Technical skills are not research; lack of vision for research applicability “I haven’t had any [research learning experiences], especially not on the scale that Nathan has had … My [nuclear lab tech] job wasn’t very research related … just analyzing specimens for specific ions and pH and stuff like that. It was really technical … I did learn that I had a fairly good aptitude for learning like technical work, like in a lab … [Doing my job] sharpened my laboratory skills. It’s ingrained in my mind how to pour water out of a beaker or a graduated cylinder into something else the correct way, to make sure you don’t get contaminated.” Ben Zoology major Graduate school aspirations 6 years of military service as a nuclear physics lab tech Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills

38 Researchers need to communicate effectively “[In my lab tech position], we had to not only record data, but we had to show it to others and be able to answer questions. “Why is it like this? Why is it like that?” You needed a thorough understanding of what’s going on in the lab.” Experiences/background are influential “I really didn’t get interested in science actually until I was about ready to get out of the military. When I was going to State I was a criminal justice major. Science was an interest, but I took a biology class at State and I wasn’t very fond of it. It wasn’t until I was in the military and leisurely reading about science that I decided I wanted to get into it.” Ben Zoology major Graduate school aspirations 6 years of military service as a nuclear physics lab tech Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills Scientific knowledge

39 Experiences/background are influential “My original reason for going into chemical engineering was to help hopefully influence an industry and make it a little more sustainable. I have a culinary degree, so doing the food science research was something to add onto my resume to show Nestle or Kraft or some major corporation that I am interested in food … But being a chemical engineer you could have a broad range of job applications. So, when I was offered this job for the paper mill company, I realized this was the perfect opportunity for me to get into an industry where I would be able to influence the sustainability of it.” Lee Chemical engineering major Has a research job with a paper company upon graduation Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Scientific knowledge

40 Research may be filled with failure; making new discoveries is rewarding “One of the things that was really tough about [the mandatory summer research lab] was just getting used to failure. So many times, you would just have this experiment that you set up, you’d get all this data, you’d go analyze it and it would be like not what we expected at all … It would be really frustrating … In research, dealing with failure is really tough to do. You kind of gotta get used to it. But then, also, when you get something right that’s kind of new or cutting edge, that’s also really exciting. There’s kind of hills and valleys in the cycle of research.” Lee Chemical engineering major Has a research job with a paper company upon graduation Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Research skills Scientific knowledge

41 Research has ethical implications Ethics can drive or hinder research. For example, stem cell research. That’s a big one. Research can benefit everyone or people can be harmed by it like, especially going back in forth in medicine. One day something’s good for you, and the next day, it’s bad, more with regards to pharmacy and pharmaceuticals, weighing the benefits. The example of polio vaccine – some people died from it, but so many more people were benefitted by it. Sean Nursing major Expects to pursue master’s and/or be a nurse practitioner Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Scientific knowledge

42 Experiences/background are influential I definitely see research as important – whether it’s mine or somebody else’s – I’m going to have use it one way or another. I’m not sure which way I’ll go quite yet, because it’s like during clinical – because I’m going for nursing – it will definitely influence the direction I go. As a patient advocate as a nurse, I guess, you always want to make sure that you are improving the patients’ quality of life, I guess you have to have the medical background, but you have to take a holistic approach to that and that holistic approach includes research … my knowledge and awareness of research can be a determinant for how well I am helping my patients. The more knowledge, the better for my patients. Sean Nursing major Expects to pursue master’s and/or be a nurse practitioner Themes CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK CATEGORIES Attitude and perception Scientific knowledge

43 Limitations  Perspectives are from transfer students who are currently enrolled at one research-focused university  Small number of participants  Students who participated in this study may have specific views toward research that aren’t shared by other students in their cohorts  Students transferred from multiple different institutions at different phases in their academic journeys  Students may be influencing their peers’ responses

44 The team  Dr. Lori Bakken  Joe Chase  Barbara Escobar  Shengbo (Shane) Zhou  Eva Gandhi  Jackson Parr  NISTS


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