“No matter what your story is, there is a place for you in science”: Students’ Ability to Relate to Scientists Positively Shifts after Scientist Spotlight Assignments, Especially for First-Generation Students and Women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We evaluate the impact of a low-stakes easy-to-implement course-level intervention, Scientist Spotlight assignments, which feature personal and professional stories of diverse scientists. This work extends previous studies by examining whether shifts in relatability differ across student identities, particularly students who identify as first-generation students, a population that has not been the focus of previous investigations of this intervention. Using paired pre-and postcourse data from four implementations in an introductory biology course, we report a significant, positive shift in undergraduate students’ self-reported ability to relate to scientists, and concomitant shifts in how students describe scientists after completing four or six Scientist Spotlight assignments. Importantly, our data demonstrate a disproportionate, positive shift for first-generation college students and for students who identify as female, a novel contribution to the body of literature investigating the Scientist Spotlight intervention. This study, along with previous reports of similar shifts in varying institutional contexts across different populations of learners, provides a strong argument that instructors interested in diversifying their course content to include representations of diverse scientists to enhance students’ ability to identify a range of “types of people” who do science can do so successfully through incorporation of a small number of Spotlight assignments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar12
JournalCBE life sciences education
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to express appreciation to Dr. Robert Erdmann and Dr. Molly Ubbesen for providing thoughtful feedback at various stages of the analysis of this project and during the drafting and revision of this article. The authors would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback and suggestions leading to an improved final paper for publication. This work was financially supported by start-up and departmental funds provided to K.J.M.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 K. J. Metzger et al.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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