In a “scientist spotlight” intervention, diverse student identities matter

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12 Scopus citations


We report on a brief, simple, online course intervention designed to reduce identity gaps and help students see their “possible selves” in working scientists. Students (n = 238) in a large-enrollment, introductory biology course for nonmajors were assigned nine podcasts, distributed throughout the semester. These podcasts each featured a scientist telling a “true, personal story about science,” and we intentionally selected podcasts featuring scientists from diverse backgrounds. We hypothesized that this intervention would serve to broaden student perceptions of science and scientists, and we used a mixed-methods approach to analyze (a) survey data and (b) short written responses about how these podcasts impacted students' views of the people who do science. Student survey responses confirm that students overwhelmingly found the podcasts valuable, engaging, and relatable, and student impressions varied as a function of student identity (gender, religiosity, sexual orientation, etc.). Further, these podcasts changed student perceptions of the sort of people who do science. This work builds on earlier findings and expands the current work to include a look at how students from a range of different identities-hidden and visible-respond to a simple intervention designed to counter stereotypes about scientists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biology Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank our students for sharing input and their consent to participate in this work. We also appreciate the valuable input of Sadie Hebert, Mark Jokinen, Liz Neeley, Stephanie Xenos, and Michael Winikoff. This program was supported in part by a grant to the University of Minnesota from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Science Education Program (PI Laurie Parker); specifically, SC is currently an HHMI Faculty Fellow in the program. Lastly, we are especially grateful to the featured scientists for sharing their stories. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.


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