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CASTLE-LSAMP Workshop to Promote Participation in STEM Research

By Faun Rockcliffe, PhD and Jessica Ward, January 15, 2021

The Drexel University Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE) and the Greater Philadelphia Region Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (Philadelphia AMP) collaborated during Fall 2020 to support learning about and enthusiasm for STEM research experiences among undergraduate students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. CASTLE hosted a 5-week online Introduction to Research Workshop, supported by Philadelphia AMP. Eighteen (18) undergraduate students in diverse disciplines from Delaware State and Cheyney Universities participated in the workshop.

Activities in the workshop included: 1) opportunities to interact with faculty and graduate student mentors who provided support throughout the workshop; 2) small group sessions that allowed the students to interact with each other and the workshop instructors in mentors on topics such as how to find a faculty mentor, how to analyze data, and how to identify a good research question; 3) a student panel focused on sharing experiences with undergraduate research; 4) faculty speakers offering examples of their STEM research with a focus on students’ capacity for success; 5) guest speakers engaging students in how to pitch a project idea; and 6) industry representatives discussing how research played a part in their career journey. These workshop activities were designed to facilitate learning around how and why to get involved in research, how scientists develop new knowledge and communicate their findings, and how a research experience can prepare you for numerous paths for success.

Students surveyed at the conclusion of the workshop stated that they learned: “The mutually beneficial aspects of a mentoring relationship, how to properly evaluate statistics, and the need to be open to all opportunities,” and that “The most important was communication as in being able to talk about your own research with other scientists as well as taking the courage to ask to work in another scientist’s laboratory.” Overall results of the workshop assessment showed that students had a positive perception of the workshop, that they believed that they learned about the relevant established learning goals for the workshop, and that they are interested in learning more. 

CASTLE hopes to offer additional workshops in collaboration with Philadelphia AMP in the future and is excited by the opportunity to facilitate engagement of students traditionally underrepresented in STEM in research experiences.