The roles of interest, career goals, and response to challenge in student persistence; a micro- and macroscopic view
Numerous calls for reform in undergraduate biology education emphasize the need for more biology graduates who have skills in and exposure to “science practices” such as research. In addition, there is a national need for more students to complete STEM degrees and fill positions in research-based fields. Conducting scientific research is recognized as one of the most challenging endeavors, requiring strong interest, creativity, perseverance, and the desire to actively engage with novel and unknown challenges. These aspects cannot be taken for granted as time and practice are needed to develop such motivations and dispositions. This talk will focus on investigations of two important student dispositions that contribute to persistence in research-based STEM endeavors: interest and perseverance during setbacks. The first half will address how strong interest in biology drives students’ engagement with extracurricular disciplinary experiences (e.g., research, clubs, or internships) that are often key in affording access to graduate school. This study takes a qualitative approach to examine the role of interest and career goals in students’ engagement with and access to such experiences over the entirety of their undergraduate career. The second half will zoom-in to explore how students’ responses to research setbacks affect persistence and learning during research-based tasks in a laboratory environment. This study examines the various ways in which students cope with research challenges and whether we can predict coping strategies based on student background. By working at the macro- and micro-level, this research program hopes to develop an overarching understanding of how students become engaged, resilient researchers.
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