mental design2 show that participating in UROP increases retention rates for some students. For example, 75 percent of African American men who participate complete their degrees, compared with 56 percent who do not participate (Gregerman, 2008). To better understand these results, evaluators conducted interviews and focus groups with students in the experimental and control groups. In those interviews, UROP students were more likely than students in the control group to mention that faculty members and graduate students cared about their success and to discuss the possibility of graduate school. They also were more likely than students in the control group to report going to faculty members’ office hours and seeking help from someone in their network instead of the library. A survey of alumni revealed that UROP participants also were significantly more likely to attend graduate or professional school (82 versus 56 percent of nonparticipants).

Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education

Gabriela Weaver (Purdue University) and Donald Wink (University of Illinois, Chicago) discussed their work with the Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education (CASPiE), a multi-institutional partnership to increase student retention in the sciences through authentic research experiences. The partner institutions include a wide range of 2- and 4-year colleges and universities (see These partners have developed a model in which first- and second-year science students participate in faculty research projects as part of their regular coursework. Undergraduate research experiences through CASPiE include skill-building workshops, access to sophisticated research equipment, guidance and mentoring from faculty, and opportunities for peer networking and support.

Evaluation results indicate that CASPiE participants learn chemistry as well as nonparticipants and are more likely to perceive their labs as authentic and relevant to the future (Wink and Weaver, 2008). Evaluation data also suggest that CASPiE students increase their ability to communicate the meaning of their work, despite the absence of prescribed steps in their lab manuals.3


In this study, researchers matched program applicants on the basis of demographic and academic characteristics and randomly accepted every other applicant. Students who were accepted to the program constituted the experimental group and those who were not selected represented the control group (Gregerman, 2008).


For more detail about the evaluation methods and results, see the workshop paper by Wink and Weaver (

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