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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." Institute of Medicine. 1985. Minority Access to Research Careers: An Evaluation of the Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18471.
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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." Institute of Medicine. 1985. Minority Access to Research Careers: An Evaluation of the Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18471.
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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." Institute of Medicine. 1985. Minority Access to Research Careers: An Evaluation of the Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18471.
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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." Institute of Medicine. 1985. Minority Access to Research Careers: An Evaluation of the Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18471.
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l. INTRODUCTION The Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is a program designed to increase the participation of members of minority groups in biomedical research. The MARC program has four major components: l. Faculty Fellowship Program 2. Visiting Scientist Program 3. Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program 4. Predoctoral Training Program. At the request of NIGMS, the committee has undertaken an evaluation of the Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program, the largest component of MARC. The evaluation focuses on a description of the scope of the program, the accomplishments of its initial graduates, and its impact on participating institutions. The Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program provides tuition and stipends for third and fourth year honors students at institutions in which enrollments are drawn substantially from ethnic minority groups. The program has two objectives: l. to increase the number of well-prepared minority students who can compete successfully for entry into graduate programs leading to the Ph.D. degree in a biomedical science, and 2. to help develop a strong science curriculum and research opportunities to prepare students for careers in biomedical research (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, no date). The first objective reflects the view that graduate education leading to the Ph.D. degree is the standard way to prepare for a career in biomedical research. It is recognized, however, that some trainees reach this goal via combined M.D./Ph.D. training programs or post-M.D. research training. Strengthening science curricula at the under- graduate level and providing opportunities to do research are considered means of achieving the first objective. The Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program grants provide funds for trainee travel and research in addition to stipends and tuition. The training programs are expected to be multidepartmental in scope and to provide a formal research experience for the trainee (including a planned program of summer study and research). A detailed training plan is submitted by each applicant institution. Administrative support (including faculty salaries) is also provided.

The MARC Honors^ program began in l977 with l2 institutions and 74 trainees. By l984 there were 52 training programs and 366 trainees. The growth and development of the Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program is outlined in detail in Chapter 2. Minorities in the Biomedical Sciences The MARC program was established in response to the underrepresen- tation of minorities in biomedical research. It is important that the efforts and accomplishments of the MARC program be viewed in that context. National data on the employment and education of minority and nonminority scientists are presented and discussed in Chapter 3. MARC Honors Evaluation: Student Outcomes The evaluation focuses on the two major program objectives: • increasing enrollment in Ph.D. programs, and • improving science curricula. The primary source of data for the evaluation of student career outcomes is a survey of former MARC Honors program participants. No alternative body of data exists. (MARC Honors grant renewal applica- tions contain some information on the career progress of program alumni, but this information is not collected in a standardized manner. NIH guidelines for grant applicants suggest that programs conduct "career surveys for graduates who continue their studies." Without a standardized survey methodology, the data obtained are neither complete nor comparable across institutions. A mailout questionnaire was sent to all MARC program alumni using addresses obtained from program directors, college alumni associations, and NIH records. The questionnaire instrument focused on three major areas (career plans, career attainments, and science education). The results of the survey of former trainees are presented in Chapter 5. Within the general guidelines established by NIGMS, the MARC Honors programs reflect tne unique designs of the individual grantees. The MARC Honors institutions differ from each other in academic traditions, educational missions, resources, and student populations. Program directors combine campus resources ana program resources to meet the needs of their students. The programs vary in their training capacity, training activities, departmental composition, and faculty participation. Programs have been in operation for differing lengths of time, giving some program directors the opportunity to alter and throughout this report the term "MARC Honors" will refer to the MARC Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program.

adapt their training programs. These variations in institutional starting points and program resources cannot be expected to yield a uniform level of success; summary statistics on MARC Honors outcomes cannot reflect these differences in institutional and program characteristics. The standard methods for disentangling initial inputs, treatment levels, and program outcomes are handicapped by the small number of cases. As a result of these constraints, certain types of insight are available only from a closer look at the operation of MARC programs. Case study data, collected in connection with the evaluation of curriculum development, provide this perspective. MARC Evaluation: Institutional Outcomes The second objective of the MARC Honors program is improved science curricula. This objective is far harder to evaluate than the entry of students into graduate study. Institutional change is more difficult to measure than student career achievements. Objective measures like the number of new courses may mask large scale quality differences. Comparisons are further complicated by the wide variation in institutional quality and curriculum development of schools when they enter the MARC Honors program. Given these difficulties, an informative method of curriculum assessment is the examination, in detail, of a few selected MARC Honors programs. A case study approach adds a detailed, qualitative dimension to the evaluation. Efforts were concentrated on those schools with the longest MARC Honors experience. Schools of varying size and institutional development were selected for site visits. In order to obtain a broad view of problems and prospects confronting MARC programs, the site visits included representatives from four institutional categories: • historically minority schools with an established tradition of research and graduate training in the biomedical sciences. These are Ph.D.- or M.D.-granting institutions (e.g., Howard University and Atlanta University); • historically minority schools with less established traditions of biomedical research and graduate training. These schools are largely bachelor's degree-granting institutions (e.g., Tougaloo College, Talladega College, and Jackson State University); • institutions with large Hispanic populations (e.g., University of New Mexico, University of Texas-San Antonio, and University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras); and t urban institutions with substantial minority populations, but which are not historically minority schools (City College of New York, Hunter College, and California State University-Los Angeles).

Prior to the site visits, a review of the institution's MARC Honors grant application file was conducted to provide background on the operation of the program. The findings from the site visits are presented in Chapter 4. A quantitative approach to the evaluation of curriculum enhancement will supplement the qualitative case study methodology. Using data from Department of Education surveys, an analysis of the proportion of students earning bachelor's degrees in the biological sciences was conducted to measure curriculum strength. The proportions of students earning bachelor's degrees in the biological sciences at MARC and nonMARC institutions (before and after the initiation of MARC Honors Undergraduate Research Training Programs) are examined and reported in Chapter 6.

Next: A Statistical Overview of the MARC Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program »
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