In this longitudinal study, we examine an entire incoming cohort of first year students at a large public university, which allows us to compare both underrepresented minority (URM) and non - (underrepresented) minority (NURM) students who do and who do not begin university with an interest in biomedical research careers as they proceed through their first three years at university. Based on self - regulation theory, we propose that self-regulation skills will substantially predict success in biomedical research (persistence in science career intentions/major and performance) above and beyond standard/identified academic/cognitive and institutional factors for both URM and NURM students. Our design will allow us to examine aspects of self-regulation as predicting URM success (performance and persistence) over time to determine if there are differences between URM and NURM with intentions to a career in biomedical research and those with other majors. We will also take a developmental perspective, examining differential predictors of leaks in the pipeline within each of the first three years of study. Specifically, we aim to (1) Characterize th levels and changes in levels of self-regulation skills of URM and NURM in biomedical research-bound students relative to minority and non-minority students in other majors;(2) Determine whether self-regulation predicts success (i.e., academic performance &persistence) for URM and NURM students in the biomedical sciences, over and above already-identified predictive individual (e.g., self-efficacy) and institutional characteristics/experiences (e.g., research mentoring). (3) Determine whether time moderates the effects of self-regulation, along with the already-established individual and institutional factors on persistence and performance over time. And (4) As an exploratory aim, examine the extent to which URM and NURM biomedical science students participate in support and interventions that may facilitate development of self-regulation skills, generating important information for development of subsequent intervention strategies. Results from this study will also provide valuable information on targets that are highly amenable to intervention development. In particular, we will be able to identify where in the college pipeline different aspects of self-regulation (along with social/cognitive and institutional/experiential) variables lead to resilient persistence and strong academic performance, which will point to the different types of self-regulation strategies most appropriate for particular types of students at particular points in their college careers. In addition, we wil examine the extent to which different types of support programs students partake of predict their success as well as changes in their self-regulation skills to provide additional insights into the types of self-regulation interventions that may be most helpful to URM students. We anticipate that these results will lead directly to more effective interventions that will promote increased URM success in biomedical careers.

Public Health Relevance

The NIH expects efforts to diversify the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences workforce will lead to the recruitment of the most talented researchers from all groups;to improve the quality of the educational and training environment;to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities;to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols;and to improve the Nation's capacity to address and eliminate health disparities. Our study will examine self-regulation, an important, under-recognized and under-researched determinant of URM success. Results will inform more targeted interventions for students across their college careers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1)
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Sesma, Michael A
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University of Connecticut
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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