Training students to enter the biomedical/behavioral sciences research workforce continues to be a critical endeavor. Though advances in scientific knowledge and information technology are increasing at an incredible rate, America's educational systems reflect declining capabilities of students in the STEM disciplines. Especially troubling is the lack of ethnic, racial and socioeconomic diversity among our research workforce. Inequities in student exposure and access to quality science education programs have been touted as one possible cause. To address these problems and instill in students a desire to explore, experiment, and learn, there have to be creative practices and innovative methodologies in place. Inquiry based teaching and immersion in active learning have shown to motivate students and improve their learning abilities. Today, technological advances offer several venues for students to gather knowledge outside of a classroom setting. Exposure to class demonstrations and laboratory immersion are very effective for grasping basic concepts. Mentored laboratory experiences allow students to witness science in action as they work with researchers to solve a problem through methodical analysis. Such participation empowers students to take ownership of their learning;integrate knowledge from diverse areas of study;and solve problems in a reflective way, allowing them to incorporate unexpected results and devise new problem-solving strategies. UNCP-RISE in its initial funding cycle had in place strategies to enable students to overcome academic hurdles, have meaningful research experiences, and prepare them for graduate study. In over three years, RISE has made considerable progress in changing the climate for research;increasing research opportunities for both the students and faculty;and increased conference attendance and presentation by students. A coordinated approach for accomplishing Cycle Two goals will incorporate both peer-led supplemental instruction in core science courses and undergraduate research training. Program goals are to 1) increase the number of minority students engaged in undergraduate research;2) increase the number of successful graduate school applications and matriculations from UNCP graduates in Biology and Chemistry/Physics;3) reduce the number of underrepresented minority students who fail to perform adequately in core curriculum courses;4) expand UNCP's existing undergraduate research environment to enhance successful intramural and extramural collaboration;and 5) increase year-to-year retention of RISE Fellows by early identification of problem areas in Fellows'academic progress and compliance with program expectations. UNCP-RISE utilizes its existing physical and intellectual resources to effectively prepare UNCP graduates to be confident, competent and experienced candidates to enter and succeed in biomedical research careers.
The targeted audience of the RISE program is underrepresented minority undergraduate students matriculating at UNCP. The stated goals are to promote undergraduate research;to support excellence in academics;and to promote a campus wide atmosphere conducive to research in the biomedical or behavioral sciences. The organization of this project and the programmatic activities therein will help train these promising students to enter and succeed in graduate programs and to become active, productive scientists in biomedical research careers.
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