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5. SURVEY OF FORMER MARC HONORS TRAINEES A survey of former MARC Honors trainees was conducted to collect data on educational and career achievements. Over three-fourths of the respondents reported having attended graduate or professional school since leaving the MARC Honors program. Nearly one-half of the respondents (47.6 percent) were current students in doctoral programs or holders of doctorate degrees. Another l5.l percent were currently enrolled in master's degree programs. A large fraction of the respondents (35.7 percent) expected to be in research careers at age 35. Not all of the respondents are likely to enter research careers. Many of the former trainees in doctoral programs are seeking professional degrees (most often M.D. degrees). Thirteen percent of the students in professional doctorate programs expected to be in research careers at age 35. The former MARC Honors trainees reported a high level of satisfaction with all program activities. Research exposure and close contact with faculty members were acknowledged as especially significant benefits of program participation. Design and Methodology The primary purpose of the survey of former MARC Honors trainees was to collect data on educational and career achievements. Secondary objectives were to ascertain the trainees' exposure to the various elements of the MARC Honors program (e.g., on-campus research, off-campus summer research, special seminars, and attendance at scientific meetings) and to obtain the students' evaluation of these program components. The questionnaire was drafted in March l984 and on March l6 a pretest was conducted using nine current MARC Honors trainees at Howard University. Revisions were made, and copies of the revised questionnaire were sent to the members of the Committee on National Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Personnel. Comments made by the committee members at the May ll, 1984 meeting were incorporated into the questionnaire. 29
30 In accordance with the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (5 CFR l320), a request for survey clearance was prepared, and the questionnaire along with supporting documentation were submitted to NIH for transmission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). On September l7, l984, OMB approved the survey of former MARC Honors trainees subject to modifications on two survey items. These modifications were made. (A copy of the survey instrument and the cover letters that accompanied the questionnaire are presented in Appendix C.) A request for permission to survey a comparison group of nonMARC science graduates at MARC Honors schools.was not approved by OMB.l Mailing addresses for the former trainees were obtained from MARC Honors program records at NIH. Address information was also obtained from MARC Honors program directors and from alumni offices at participating institutions. The examination of the MARC Honors program files yielded the names and addresses of 82l former trainees. These were all of the trainees who graduated or left the program prior to August l984. In the case of current trainees, estimates of graduation dates were made. The decision to study "exit cohorts" was based on the initial plan to match MARC Honors trainees with nonMARC science graduates from the same institution. Survey Procedures The initial wave of questionnaires was mailed on November l4, l984 to the addresses provided by the program directors. Since many program directors maintain close contact with their former trainees, addresses obtained from the program directors (when available) were given the highest priority. When undeliverable questionnaires were returned to the NAS, they were remailed to the next priority address. The response rate for the first mailing was very low, and a major effort was made to verify the addresses for the second mailing. Telephone directories and directory assistance were used to determine if a person with the same last name was listed at the given address. Verified addresses were given priority over unverified addresses. The second mailing was done over a two-week period beginning January 8, l985. contended that "the study design did not provide for adequately matching MARC Honors trainees with a population of like characteris- tics." The study design called for selecting a comparison group from the population of honors students in the same departments, schools, and graduation cohorts as the trainees. Any differences in measured attributes (e.g., grade point average) were to be subject to statis- tical controls or restricted comparisons. The committee's staff challenged the OMB decision. However, given the length of time between the original submission of clearance materials and an OMB ruling, it was determined that a formal appeal of the decision was not feasible.
31 Efforts to track the addresses of former trainees continued. In January l985, the program directors were recontacted and asked for assistance in verifying or updating the addresses. These data were used for a final round of address searches conducted prior to the third mailout. In February, phone calls were made using the phone numbers obtained in the verification process. If the former trainee was contacted, his or her participation in the survey was requested. Forwarding information was sought in cases where the trainee had moved. The third and final mailing took place in March 1985. Response Rate Nearly two-thirds of the former MARC Honors trainees (65.0 percent) returned their questionnaires. A comparison of the attributes of survey respondents to those of nonrespondents can provide a perspective on the adequacy of the survey response rate. Data on program participation from NIH training records and trainee grade point averages (GPAs) from the MARC Honors grant renewal applications can be used for this purpose. Almost all of the differences between respondents and nonrespondents were minor. The most recent trainees were slightly more likely to respond than the less recent program participants (Appendix L), Table D.I). These differences were small, and the response rates for four of the seven entry cohorts were within three percentage points of the grand mean. Large deviations from the overall mean (l5 percentage points) were found only in the first and last cohorts. There was only a slight difference in the GPA of respondents and nonrespondents. The mean GPA of respondents was 3.33 while that of the nonrespondents was 3.l8 (Appendix D, Table D.2). Respondents spent an average of l6.5 months on the training grant while nonrespondents averaged l5.0 months (Appendix D, Table D.3). However, the respondents were more likely than the nonrespondents to have received predoctoral support from NIH in graduate school. Of the l88 trainees who left the MARC Honors program before l98l, l2.5 percent of the respondents and 3.6 percent of the nonrespondents had NIH predoctoral support in l98l. An additional perspective on response bias can be obtained by comparing the survey respondents' rate of medical school attendance to that of the entire study population. The Association of American â¢ ' Medical Colleges (AAMC) was able to determine that l84 former MARC Honors trainees were accepted at medical schools (22.4 percent). A similar percentage of survey respondents (28.3 percent) report medical degrees, current medical school enrollment, or withdrawal from professional schools. Some indication of the reliability of the respondents' data can be obtained by comparing the program directors' reports of students' GPA with tne students' reports of their own GPA. There is a strong correspondence between the two reports. In 70.l percent of the cases the students and program directors reported the same GPA. Almost all
32 of the discrepancies were within one category on the GPA scale. In cases where discrepancies occurred, the students' reports of their GPAs tended to be higher than those of the program director (Appendix D, Table D.4). It should be noted that the GPAs in the program directors' reports were not always the final GPA. Some of the discrepancies may have been due to changes that occurred after the program directors' report. Survey Results2 Background The MARC Honors respondents were nearly equally divided between males and females (45.0 percent male, 55.0 percent female). Blacks were the largest racial/ethnic group, comprising 74.l percent (Table 5.l). Hispanics were the second largest group, making up l7.2 percent of the survey respondents. Asian Americans and Native Americans comprised smaller portions of the sample (3.3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.) Education Over three-quarters of all former MARC Honors trainees (76.l percent) matriculated as students in a graduate or a professional school program (Table 5.2). There has been some fluctuation over time in the rate of postbaccalaureate training. However, former trainees from the earliest program cohorts have had more time in which to enroll in postbaccalaureate programs. Since the first MARC Honors cohort graduated in l978 (and the first full, two-year trainee cohort did not graduate until l979), there has been limited time in which to complete doctorate work. Nonetheless, 22 former trainees from the first three graduating cohorts have com- pleted their doctorate degrees. These 22 doctorate holders represent 2l.2 percent of the respondents who graduated (or left) the MARC Honors program during its first 3 years of operation.^ Another 30 former trainees from these program cohorts are still in doctoral programs. 2Because it was necessary to estimate the graduation date of many trainees in the creation of the initial study population, 36 current MARC Honors students received and returned questionnaires. Since current students were not included in the initial design of the study population, these cases are excluded from the analysis. The results presented below are based on the responses of 498 former MARC Honors trainees. â¢^There were l04 respondents in the first 3 graduation cohorts, l978 through l980. To facilitate later comparisons with NSF data, Table 5.2 groups the years l978 through l98l.
33 TABLE 5.l MARC Respondents by Racial/Ethnic Group and Sex Sex Racial/Ethnic Group Total Male Female Black N % 32l 64.4 ll8 52.7 203 74.l Hispanica N % ll2 65 47 l7.2 22.5 29.0 Asian N % 28 5.6 19 9 3.3 8.5 Native American N % 23 l6 7.l 7 4.6 2.6 Other, No Response N % l4 2.8 6 2.7 8 2.9 Total N % 498 99.9 224 274 l00.0 l00.0 alncludes all those indicating Hispanic ethnicity, regardless of race. TABLE 5.2 Percent Ever Enrolled in Postbaccalaureate Training by Year of Exit from MARC Honors Programa Academic Year Number Percent l978 13 86.7 l979 26 83.9 l980 47 8l.0 l98l 45 69.2 l982 83 78.3 1983 79 77.5 l984 86 7l.l Total 379 76.l alncludes current graduate students, current professional students, holders of graduate degrees (e.g., M.S., Ph.D.), holders of profes- sional degrees (e.g., M.D.), and former students who withdrew from graduate or professional schools without receiving degrees. SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
34 Holders of medical degrees greatly outnumber holders of research doctorates. This is in part a function of the number of years required to complete doctoral work in each program. Professional doctorates typically require 4 years of postbaccalaureate study; the median time from baccalaureate degree to Ph.D. in the biosciences is 7.4 years (National Research Council, l983). Sixty-five percent of the respondents are students, the vast major- ity being degree-seeking graduate or professional students (Table 5.3). Over one-fourth of the former trainees are doctoral students in professional schools.'* A slightly smaller percentage (l7.3 percent) are enrolled in research doctorate programs. However, another l5.l percent of the former trainees are in master's degree programs. Most of these students are in basic sciences programs. By l98l, l6 trainees had gone on to receive NIH/AUAMHA predoctoral support under a National Research Service Award Act program. They TABLE 5.3 Educational Status of Former Trainees Year of Program Exit Total l978-l98l l982-l984 Status No. % No. % No. % Doctorate Holders Research (Ph.D.) 1 0.2 l 0.7 0 0.0 Professional (M.D., D.D.S., D.V.M.) 2l 4.2 2l l4.8 0 0.0 Current Graduate Students Master's 75 l5.l l7 l2.0 58 l6.3 Researcn Doctorate 86 l7.3 23 l6.2 63 l7.7 Professional Doctorate l26 25.3 27 l9.0 99 27.8 Other Professional 3 0.6 2 l.4 l 0.3 M.D./Ph.D. 3 0.6 0 0.0 3 0.8 Other Students Nondegree 15 3.0 8 5.6 7 2.0 2nd Bachelor's 14 2.8 5 3.5 9 2.5 None of the above l54 30.9 38 26.8 ll6 32.3 Total 498 l00.0 l42 l00.0 356 99.7 SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey. of these were medical students. A few of the students in professional doctorate programs (7.l percent) were studying dentistry and 2 students (l.6 percent) were studying other health fields.
35 represent 8.5 percent of the l88 persons who left the MARC Honors program before l98l. Twelve of these predoctoral students are supported on training grants; four have fellowship grants. NIGMS supports the largest number of predoctoral students (eight), followed by NIMH (five). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Cancer Institute, and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development also support former MARC trainees. While the Office of Management and Budget would not approve a survey of a comparison group of science students, the New Entrants Survey (NES) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) can provide some perspective on the rate of graduate school attendance for the former MARC Honors trainees. The New Entrants Surveys conducted by the National Science Foundation in l980 and l982 produced national estimates of the educational activities of the science majors graduating one to two years before each survey. The rate of graduate or professional school attendance for biology baccalaureates ranged between 53.2 percent and 43.9 percent for the 1978, l979, l980, and l98l graduating classes (Table 5.4). Weighted averages for the five fields represented in MARC Honors programs (biology, chemistry, psychology, mathematics, and physics) yielded results similar to those for biology baccalaureates. The rate of graduate or professional school attendance for former MARC Honors students was well above that of the New Entrants Survey sample. Almost two-thirds (64.l percent) of the MARC Honors trainees graduating in the l978 through l98l period were doctorate degree holders or current graduate and professional students in l984. (An even larger percentage had enrolled in graduate school at some point since leaving the MARC Honors program.) Among the former trainees from the l982 through l984 MARC Honors cohorts (who, like the New Entrants sample, have been out of school for less than two years), the rate of graduate or professional school attendance for l984 was 63.2 percent. The comparison with national averages provides a perspective on the MARC Honors graduates: MARC Honors graduates are more likely to attend graduate or professional school than the typical science graduate. However, the data presented above cannot determine the extent to which credit belongs to the training program. Unmeasured differences between the MARC Honors graduates and the New Entrants sample prevent the use of the latter as a rigorous test of the MARC honors program's success. Differences in the time elapsed between graduation and survey dates also complicate comparisons. Withdrawal from Graduate and Professional Schools Many graduate students withdraw from graduate or professional pro- grams before they have completed them. Since many former MARC Honors trainees are still in school, the graduate and professional school attrition rate can certainly change. At the present stage, attrition from a graduate or professional program does not seem to be a common characteristic of the survey respondents. Eighty-four of the respon- dents reported that they left a graduate or professional program before
36 TABLE 5.4 Graduate or Professional School Status of Recent Science Bachelor's Degree Recipients (Total U.S.) Survey Year and Year of Bachelor's Degree 1980 Survey l982 Survey l978 Graduates l979 Graduates l980 Graduates l981 Graduates Field Percent Percent Percent Percent BIOLOGY Full-Time Part-Time Other/No Response 44.0 8.7 47.2 39.2 4.7 56.l 37.9 l2.0 50.l 42.6 l0.6 46.8 Totala 99.9 l00.0 l00.0 l00.0 ALL MARC FIELDS5 Full-Time 4l.7 Part-Time 9.0 Other/No Response 49.3 Total 100.0 38.6 6.2 55.2 l00.0 37.l l2.9 50.0 l00.0 42.7 ll.8 45.5 l00.0 aDue to rounding by NSF, detail may not add to total. 5The percentages from five science fields were weighted according to their proportion of the majors in the MARC Honors program (biology = .604, chemistry = .243, psychology = .069, mathematics = .06l, and physics = .024). SOURCES: National Science Foundation, l982 and l984a; Tables B-l, B-4, B-l9, and B-22.
37 they received a degree. This group represents l6.9 percent of the respondents and 22.2 percent of those who had ever enrolled in a graduate or professional school program. Attrition was greatest from master's degree programs followed by smaller numbers who left doctoral programs (Table 5.5). Former MARC Honors trainees left graduate or professional programs for a variety of reasons (sometimes to enroll in other programs and sometimes with the intention to return to school later). The greatest number who left graduate school withdrew from master's rather than doctoral programs. The reasons for leaving graduate or professional programs were ascertained in two ways: first by an open-ended question and next by a multiple choice question. Lack of interest in the program and external factors (family, health, and other personal reasons) were the most frequently cited reasons for leaving graduate or professional programs (Table 5.6). Educational expenses and expectations of future earnings were frequently checked in the multiple choice question. In the open-ended question that preceded it, however, these reasons were rarely mentioned. Other economic reasons were given instead. Respondents mentioned that they needed to work or that classes interfered with their jobs. These statements probably reflect the situation of people in master's degree programs (a large fraction of those who left graduate or professional programs). Students in master's degree programs are less likely to be on stipends and more likely to be bearing the cost of their education directly. The major reasons for leaving--^ack of interest and external factors-- do not suggest immediate policy changes. There is evidence, however, that the lack of funding and the need for outside employment conflict with the educational plans of some students. Not all of those who left graduate or professional programs should be viewed as unsuccessful. Ten percent of the students who left graduate or professional programs reported that they did so because they were accepted at medical schools or other professional programs. Another group, almost as large, reported that they have changed their career plans without mentioning their new field. Some of these people will go on to successful scientific careers. Of the 84 people who left a graduate or professional program prior to receiving a degree, l later received a medical degree and 39 others were back in school as of November l984. Twelve were in professional doctorate programs, six were in research doctorate programs, thirteen were in master's degree programs, and eight were in nondegree or second baccalaureate programs. Employment The former MARC Honors trainees were asked about their employment status as of November 12, l984. Since the overwhelming majority of the respondents were in school, their current labor force status was a poor indicator of their career progress. However, it is useful to look at the employment status of those persons no longer enrolled in school. Very few MARC Honors survey respondents reported that they were not employed as of November l2, l984 and those that did were almost all persons without graduate or professional degrees (Table 5.7). None of the doctorate holders and only three of the master's degree
38 TABLE 5.5 Persons Leaving Graduate or Professional School Before Receiving Degree by Type of Program Type of Program Number Percent Master1 s Degree 46 54.8 Research Doctorate 21 25.0 Professional Doctorate l6 l9.0 M.D./Ph.D. _Â± l.2 Total 84 l00.0 SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey. TABLE 5.6 Reasons for Leaving Graduate or Professional School Before Receiving Degree Open-Ended Precoded Responses Responses Reason N % N % Lack of interest in program 24 25.8 27 22.5 External factors (e.g., family, health) 20 2l.5 33 27.5 Educational expenses 4 4.3 26 21.7 Lack of preparation for program 4 4.3 17 l4.2 Expectations of future earnings 2 2.2 17 l4.2 Changed career plans 6 6.5 â¢ â¢ Accepted at medical (or other professional) school 8 8.6 - . Academic reasons (lack of progress) 5 5.4 - - Financial reasons (needed to work) 10 l0.8 â¢ â¢ Classes conflicted with job 3 3.2 - - Other 7 7.5 - - Totala 93 l00.l l20 l00.l aEighty-four people left graduate or professional programs. Several of these people gave more than one reason for leaving. SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
39 TABLE 5.7 Labor Force Status by Education for Former Trainees No Longer Enrolled in School Highest Degree Year of Exit from Pro- gram/Employment Status No B.A. bachelor's Master's Doctorate Total N ALL YEARS Employment Status Unemployed 2 15.4 ll 9.3 3 16.7 0 0.0 16 9.5 Employed ll 84.6 107 90.7 15 83.3 20 100.0 153 90.5 Total Labor Force TT 100.0 TTE 100.0 TH IfiO "217 100.0 T59" 100.0 Field of Employment Science/Engineering 8 72.7 69 64.5 12 80.0 20 100.0 109 71.2 Other 3 27.3 38 35.5 3 20.0 _0 0.0 44 28.8 Total Employed TT 100.0 T07 100.0 15 100.0 20 100.0 153 100.0 1978-1981 Employment Status Unemployed Employed Total Labor Force Field of Employment Science/Engineering Other Total Employed 1 20.0 4 80.0 "5" "TOO 1 25.0 3 75.0 7 "TOO 2 42 26 16 4.6 95.5 TUO 61.9 38.1 TOO 3 12 TS 20.0 80.0 TSO ll 91.7 1 8.3 T? IOC 0 20 20 0 20 0.0 100.0 "TOO 100.0 0.0 TOO 6 7.1 78 92.9 84" "TOO 1981-1984 Employment Status Unemployed 1 12.5 9 12.2 0 0 .0 - - 10 11 .8 Employed 7 87.5 65 87.8 3 100 .0 75 88 .2 Total Labor Force "S TOO 7* "TOO 7 TOO" â¢ U â â ~55 W Tfi Field of Employment Science/Engineering 7 100.0 43 66.2 1 33 .3 51 68 .0 Other 0 0.0 22 33.8 2 66 .7 24 32 .0 Total Employed 7 100.0 "65 T5O 1 TOO TU 75 100 .6 SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
40 holders were unemployed. Among those whose highest degree was a bachelor's degree, ll people (9.3 percent) were unemployed. (Four people were not in the labor force.) National estimates of the employment status of science students were obtained from the New Entrants Surveys conducted by the National Science Foundation in l980 and l982 (Table 5.8). The unemployment rate for biology baccalaureates 1 to 2 years after graduation ranged from a low of 3.3 percent (l978 graduates surveyed in l980) to a high of ll.7 percent (l981 graduates surveyed in l982). The rates for a weighted combination of MARC Honors fields (biology, chemistry, psychology, mathematics, and physics) were similar. These figures correspond closely to those for former MARC trainees with bachelor's degrees. Among the l978-8l MARC Honors trainees with bachelor's degrees only, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. For the more recent MARC Honors trainees (l982-84), the unemployment rate was 12.2 percent for those whose highest degree was a bachelor's degree. The majority of the MARC Honors survey respondents who were not in school were employed in science or engineering jobs (Table 5.7). All of the doctorate holders and 80.0 percent of the employed master's degree holders were in science and engineering positions. Those with only a bachelor's degree were least likely to have jobs in science and engineering (64.5 percent). However, this rate exceeds the national average for recent science baccalaureates. In l980, 46.6 percent of the employed biology baccalaureates from the class of l978 held science or engineering jobs (Table 5.85). A similar rate (47.9 percent) was found for the l979 graduates. A l982 survey found that the level of science or engineering employment was 50.0 percent for l980 graduates and 46.2 percent for l98l graduates. Nationally, the percentage in scientific employment was higher for mathematics, chemistry, and physics majors than it was for biology and psychology majors. When the rates are adjusted to compensate for the field distribution of MARC Honors trainees, the levels of scientific employment fell between 54.3 and 57.5 percent. This was still substantially lower than the level of the former MARC trainees. Career Plans When asked about their expected field of employment at age 35, nearly all of the respondents mentioned science-related jobs (Table 5.9). Nearly 25 percent aspired to biomedical research careers and another l0.6 percent planned research in other fields participating in MARC Honors programs (e.g., chemistry, physics, psychology, and mathematics). Clinical careers in the health sciences were mentioned by over 40 percent of the sample. Medicine was the most frequently cited (3l.1 percent). Dentistry and other health professions (nursing, pharmacy, and podiatry) were listed by another l0 percent. Nonclinical careers in science-related fields (usually engineering and computer science) were mentioned by l4.3 percent of the respondents. ^These figures exclude full-time graduate students.
4l TABLE 5.8 Labor Force Status of Recent Science Bachelor's Degree Recipients Who Are Not Full-Time Graduate Students (Total U.S.) BIOLOGY Employment Status Unemployed Employed Total Labor Force Field of Employment Science/Engineering Other Total Employed Survey Year and Year of Bachelor's Degree l980 Survey l982 Survey l978 Graduates l979 Graduates l980 Graduates l98l Graduates Field/Labor Force Status Percent Percent Percent Percent 3.3 96.7 46.6 53.4 100.0 6.5 93.5 l00.0 47.9 52.l TOO 6.7 93.3 l00.0 50.0 50.0 ToO ll.7 88.3 l00.0 46.2 53.8 l00.0 ALL MARC FIELDSa Employment Status Unemployed Employed Total Labor Forceb Field of Employment 3.4 96.7 TOOTT 4.8 95.3 TOOTT 5.6 94.5 l00.l ll.l 89.0 l00.l Science/Engineering 54.3 55.2 56.2 57.5 Other 45.8 45.8 43.9 42.5 Total Employed TOOTT TOTTO 100.1 100.0 aThe percentages from five science fields were weighted according to their proportion of the majors in the MARC Honors program (biology = .604, chemistry = .243, psychology = .069, mathematics = .06l, and physics = .024). "Due to rounding by NSF, detail may not add to total. SOURCES: National Science Foundation, l982 and l984a; Tables B-l, B-4, B-l9, and B-22.
42 A sizable number of respondents reported academic medicine or clinical research as a primary career goal. (These individuals were counted with the researchers and not the clinicians in Table 5.9.) Of the l46 former trainees who were enrolled in professional doctorate programs (medical, dental, or veterinary schools) or who have finished their professional training, 19 (l3.0 percent) reported that they expect to be doing research at age 35. TABLE 5.9 Expected Area of Employment at Age 35 Type of Employment Percent I. Science/Engineering Jobsa A. Research 1. Biomedical 24.7 2. Other fields (e.g., chemistry, physics, psychology) l0.6 3. Unspecified 0.4 B. Nonresearch 1. Clinical a. Medicine 3l.l b. Dentistry 2.7 c. Other health 7.8 2. Nonclinical l4.3 C. Science (research content unspecified) II. Nonscience/Engineering Jobs aThese codes are derived from the job names given in Question l2 on the survey instrument. SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
43 Career Progress Given the different years of graduation and the different stages of career progress, it is difficult to measure program success with a single number. Time and opportunity are intertwined with each indicator of career success. Nevertheless, it is interesting to summarize the status of former trainees. Table 5.10 presents three measures of program success. The first and most restrictive measure, doctoral enrollment, counts the number of former trainees who were either currently enrolled in doctoral programs or who had completed doctoral programs. Almost half of the former trainees were in doctoral programs. Students in clinical programs outnumbered students in research doctorate programs. TABLE 5.l0 Percentage of Respondents in Each Career Outcome Category by Year of Exit From MARC Honors Program Career Outcomes Doctoral Enrollmenta Doctoral Progress b Doctoral PlansC Year of Exit Yes No Yes No Yes No l978 46 .7 53 .3 46. 7 53. 3 53. 3 46.7 l979 51 .6 48 .4 5l. 6 48. 4 7l. 0 29.0 l980 46 .6 53 .5 56. 9 43. l 67. 2 32.8 l98l 33 .9 66 .2 50. 8 49. 2 72. 3 27.7 l982 50 .9 49 .1 66. 0 34. 0 87. 7 l2.3 l983 47 .1 52 .9 66. 7 33. 3 89. 2 l0.8 l984 52 .1 47 .9 70. 3 29. 8 90. 1 9.9 Total 47 .6 52 .4 62. 7 37. 4 82. 1 l7.9 Completed or currently enrolled in doctoral program. ^Includes master's degree students. cGraduate students, current and prospective. SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
44 A sizable group of students (l5.l percent) were in master's degree programs. Although some of these students may end their education with master's degrees and others may go on to professional schools, a portion of these students will pursue research doctorates. Adding the master's degree seekers to the population in doctoral programs raised the percentage in a more broadly defined measure of success, doctoral progress, to over 60 percent. Graduate education is not a single, uninterrupted sequence. At all levels of higher education, and particularly at the graduate level, students return to school and obtain their degrees after a period of employment, family responsibility, or leisure. Of the 37.0 percent of the former trainees who were not currently degree-seeking students, over half planned to return to school and obtain doctoral degrees before they reach 35. When those planning doctoral degrees were included in a third measure of success called doctoral plans, over 82 percent of the respondents qualified. Success (measured either by doctoral enrollment, doctoral progress, or doctoral plans) was related to both grade point average (GPA) and months of funding on the MARC Honors programs. Students with the highest self-reported GPA were the most likely to be enrolled in graduate or professional programs (66.7 percent), making doctoral progress (77.8 percent), or having doctoral plans (86.l percent). Respondents with lower GPAs were less likely to report "successful" outcomes. The relationship between GPA and success was particularly strong for the two most restrictive definitions of success, enrollment in a doctoral program and doctoral progress (Table 5.ll, panel A). Those respondents with the greatest number of months in the program also had the highest rates of success (Table 5.ll, panel B). Although the relationship was not quite as strong as that of GPA, former trainees with 24 months of MARC funding were the most likely to be enrolled in doctoral programs (58.7 percent), making progress toward a doctoral degree (70.l percent), or having doctoral plans (89.l percent). Those with less program exposure were less likely to report each of these career outcomes. The relationship between program tenure and success is interesting. Those with the most program exposure were the most likely to pursue graduate or professional degrees. Although the relationship was strong, its interpretation is not very simple. It is quite possible that those with the greatest potential for success were spotted earli- est in their undergraduate careers and given the most program exposure. Those with less promise may be added to the programs in their senior year to fill program vacancies. Furthermore, the attrition of the less interested and less successful students from the MARC Honors program will also increase the relationship between program exposure and success. Although the relationship between success and program exposure suggests the possibility of direct program benefits, the alternative possibilities of program selection and selective attrition cannot be ruled out as sources of the observed relationship.
45 TABLE 5.l1 Percentage of Respondents in Each Career Outcome Category by Grade Point Average and Months in Program Career Outcomes Doctoral Enrollments Doctoral Progress"3 Doctoral Plans0 A. Grade Point Average Yes No Yes No Yes No (Q28) A 66 .7 33 .3 77 .8 22. 2 86 .1 l3.9 A/B 50 .4 49 .6 65 .9 34. 1 84 .5 l5.5 B 29 .5 7l .5 49 .2 50. 8 77 .9 22.l B/C 18 .2 81 .8 18 .2 8l. 8 54 .6 45.4 C or less 0 .0 l00 .0 0 .0 l00. 0 66 .7 33.3 B. Months in Program (Q24a) 24 58 .7 41 .3 70 .1 29. 9 89 .l l0.9 l8-23 40 .2 59 .8 56 .7 43. 3 82 .5 l7.5 l2-l7 45 .8 54 .2 65 .0 35. 0 84 .2 l5.8 LT l2 35 .1 64 .9 52 .0 48. 0 64 .9 35.l Completed or currently enrolled in doctoral program. blncludes master's degree students. cGraduate students, current and prospective. SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
46 Program Components An important feature of the MARC Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program is the flexibility individual grant applicants have in Designing their training programs. Variation in institutional resources and student academic preparation has led to a diversity of programs. Although research exposure is a key feature at all training sites, some features of the MARC Honors program vary from school to school. In a short battery of questions (Questions l5 through 19, 25 and 26), survey respondents were asked if particular activities were part of their undergraduate science program and, if so, how these activities compared to other parts of their science curriculum. Almost all respondents reported having a close working relationship with a faculty member, working on a research project with a faculty member, and attending professional meetings (Table 5.l2). Approximately three-fourths of the former trainees reported that they presented their own research, attended a series of lectures by outside scientists, or took special classes for MARC Honors students. Working on an extramural research project was the least frequently reported program experience. Just over 60 percent of the respondents indicated that they had been part of a summer research project at another institution.6 Although it was the least frequently reported experience, extramural research is the most highly praised component of the program.' Almost 60 percent of those with extramural research exposure rated it "much more beneficial" than other aspects of their undergraduate science program. The only other curriculum components approaching this level of appreciation were also related to "hands on" research experience. Nearly half of the respondents rated on-campus research projects and close working relationships with faculty members as "much more beneficial" than other aspects of their undergraduate science program. Professional meetings and presentation of one's own research were valued less than the more laboratory-oriented aspects of the MARC experience. Less than 40 percent of the respondents rated meetings and presentations "much more valuable." Special MARC Honors classes and guest lecturers had a less noticeable impact on the students, perhaps because they were less dramatic departures from the normal undergraduate educational experience. Fewer than one-third of the respondents rated special MARC Honors classes and guest lecturers "much more beneficial." 6The site visits to MARC Honors program institutions revealed a difference of opinion at more research-oriented schools over the relative benefits of on-campus and off-campus summer research (Chapter 4). 'See also the respondents' comments in the following section.
47 TABLE 5.l2 Curriculum Participation and Evaluation of Components of Science Percent "Much More Beneficial" Percent "Yes" Component Mentor (GJ5) 92.3 49.8 As part of your undergraduate science program, were you able to establish a close working relationship or a close intellectual relation- ship with a faculty member? Research Project (Q16) 89.7 47.0 As part of your undergraduate science program, were you involved in an on-campus research project with a faculty member? Extramural Project (Ql7) 6l.1 58.6 As part of your undergraduate science program, were you involved in a summer research project in industry or at an institution other than the university at which you were a student? Professional Meetings (Ql8) 93.5 36.3 As part of your undergraduate science program, did you attend any scientific meetings or conferences? Present Own Research (Ql9) 79.6 39.3 As an undergraduate, did you ever make a presen- tation of the findings of your own original research to a group of students or scientists? MARC Courses (Q25) 75.0 31.4 As part of your undergraduate MARC program, did you take special classes for MARC students? Guest Lecturers (Q26) 77.9 27.2 As part of your undergraduate MARC program, was there a special lecture series where scientists from other institutions were brought to your campus? SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
48 Comments from Respondents A surprisingly large percentage of the respondents wrote comments on the last page of the questionnaire. Excluding explanations or clarifications of specific survey items, over one-fourth (25.7 percent) of the returned questionnaires had substantive comments. Respondents were provided space for "any additional comments on the survey questions, survey topics, or on your undergraduate science training." The MARC Honors program was not mentioned, yet nearly two-thirds (62.4 percent) of the comments referred specifically to the MARC program.Â° The MARC comments can be grouped into five categories: -- MARC enhanced education (general); â MARC enhanced science education; â Appreciated research exposure of MARC; â MARC influenced their research career; and â Specific recommendations and criticisms of MARC. Nineteen respondents noted that the MARC Honors program had enhanced their education (Table 5.l3). In the words of one student, "If it had not been for the MARC program, I honestly feel that my overall educational background would not have come up to par." In addition to the skills they learned, respondents credited the MARC Honors program with building self-confidence, fostering independence, stimulating intellectual curiosity, and developing communication skills. Another l9 respondents reported that the MARC Honors program enhanced their science education. In the words of one former trainee: Through the MARC undergraduate program I was able to better understand the complex nature of much that I had been taught previously in science classes, and learned to approach future material in a more analytical manner. It was in the program that I learned the crucial skills of scientific presentation, investigation, as well as the method used to locate materials in the journals. As I progressed through my final two undergraduate years, I found that the experience I had gained through MARC helped me through material which seemed to snare my classmates; I had an "edge" on classmates who were not a part of the program. ^There were l28 respondents who wrote comments but several commented on more than one issue. There were l57 separate comments coded.
49 Another trainee expressed a similar appreciation of MARC: The MARC and MBRS programs were instrumental in forming my abilities, giving me a competitive edge in terms of skills and background for graduate school. In fact, the MARC and MBRS experience which I had was by far more valuable to me in teaching me science than most courses in the sciences. TABLE 5.l3 Comments From Respondents Comments Number Percent Comments Referring to MARC MARC enhanced education (general) l9 l2.l MARC enhanced science education 26 l6.6 Appreciate research exposure of MARC l6 l0.2 MARC influenced research career 2l l3.4 Specific MARC recommendations and criticisms l6 l0.2 Comments Not Referring to MARC Clarification of current career status 14 8.9 General comments about undergraduate education 23 l4.6 Requests for job or fellowship information 5 3.2 Disappointments with Career progress 3 1.9 Job opportunities for bachelor's degree holders 9 5.7 Science, graduate school, scientists 5 3.2 Totala l57 l00.0 aThere were l28 respondents who wrote comments. Several made multiple comments. Therefore, the number of comments (l57) exceeds the number of respondents. SOURCE: MARC Honors Survey.
50 Although some students described MARC as an enhancement to their studies, others noted that MARC was an essential link to the mainstream of science. One woman made this point very emphatically in her comments: I was dissatisfied with my undergraduate science program primarily because my undergraduate institution did not have adequate funding to expose the science students to the latest advancements in their respective fields nor the latest technologies. Our books and equipment were outdated and we were not able to subscribe to any scientific journals. Being in the MARC program helped me make my decision to remain in the sciences because I was given the opportunity to go to another institution during the summer and, subsequently, be exposed to the techniques, journals, etc. that are necessary ingredients in becoming a competent, respected research scientist. One feature of the MARC Honors programâexposure to researchâwas repeatedly singled out in the respondents' comments. Sixteen people acknowledged their appreciation of the research exposure they gained through the MARC Honors program. Several students reported that, had it not been for the MARC Honors program, they would not have had an opportunity for research training. The research experiences of the MARC Honors program were not a normal part of the undergraduate curriculum, as the comments of one student indicated: The program afforded me the opportunity to gain valuable research and work experience even before completion of undergraduate school.... The program exposed those students interested in pursuing scientific research to various aspects of graduate studies. Participants were also able to become familiar with advanced scientific instruments while in the program. Twenty-one students reported that the MARC Honors experience had a major impact on their decisions to pursue research careers. Several mentioned that their plans to go to medical school changed as a result of their exposure to research in MARC Honors programs. In the words of one student: I would like to emphasize that the major impetus to my pursuing a Ph.D. was the opportunity to conduct original research through the MBRS and MARC programs. Had it not been for the presence of these programs at my undergraduate institution, I would probably have just gone to medical school and not been a scientist at all.
5l Others emphasized how MARC Honors experiences enhanced their ability to pursue research careers by preparing them for the challenges of graduate school. The MARC program was invaluable to me in its introduction to career science. I am presently a Ph.D. candidate at MIT and feel that the experience with the program has made my stay in graduate school easier. I'll not soon forget the time and care faculty took with me, and a NIH summer internship was probably the single most important preparation for grad school. Another student credits the MARC Honors program with important insights that rescued his scientific career. I feel the MARC and MBRS programs were crucial in my decision to try for a career in science. Without that experience, I would have never considered science as a possible career option. By working in a lab as an undergraduate, I had a good idea of what I wanted in a lab as a graduate student. It gave me the confidence to change from one graduate program to another when the first one was not what I expected. Most of the comments on the MARC Honors program were favorable. Several respondents, however, took the time to make specific recommendations or criticisms of the MARC Honors program. Of the l6 respondents making specific suggestions, half mentioned the need for more academic guidance and career counseling. Several comments did not refer to the MARC Honors program. Most of these comments were explanations or clarifications of current career statuses (l4) or general comments about educational experiences (23). A sizable group (l7) mentioned disappointments of one sort or another. Three people mentioned disappointments with career progress. The focus in these cases was on personal achievement. A larger group (9) reported disappointment with the job opportunities for persons with bachelor's degrees in science. It should be recalled that 8 other respondents criticized the MARC Honors program for failing to provide sufficient academic guidance and career counseling. A common experience may underlie both concerns. Finally, a small number of respondents (5) expressed dissatisfaction with "the narrowness of science," prejudice in the academic community, and maltreatment of graduate students. Although these disappointments should not be dismissed, they represent only a small fraction (l3.3 percent) of the persons volunteering comments.
52 Conclusion The overwhelming majority of former trainees (76.l percent) go on to graduate or professional school. A large number pursue professional doctorates, but a substantial percentage seek research doctorates. Many students are in master's degree programs and may continue on into doctorate level work. Attrition from graduate or professional programs does not seem to be a problem. Nearly one-half of those who leave a graduate or professional program return to school. Although exact comparisons cannot be made, the rates of graduate school attendance and employment in science for the MARC trainees are above those found in the most closely comparable national data. Unemployment rates among former trainees are low, not much different from the national average for recent science graduates. A sizable portion of the former trainees (35.7 percent) expect to be in research careers at age 35. A slightly larger group (42.6 percent) plan clinical careers. Science-related jobs in a nonclinical, nonresearch setting is the goal of l5.3 percent of the MARC Honors alumni. (These jobs are largely in computer science and engineering.) Only 7.4 percent expect to be working outside of science or engineering. The former trainees report high levels of satisfaction with all parts of the MARC Honors experience. The extramural research project is the least frequently experienced MARC Honors activity, but it is the most highly praised by those who participated in it. Other research-related experiences (on-campus research with a faculty member and a close intellectual relationship with a faculty member) were also highly valued by the former trainees.