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A Comprehensive Examination Of The Impact Of The Summer Undergraduate Research Program On Minority Enrollment In Graduate School

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Knowing our Students, Part 1

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.22.1 - 12.22.16

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Paper Authors

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Jill Auerbach Georgia Institute of Technology

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Jonathan Gordon Georgia Institute of Technology

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Gary May Georgia Institute of Technology

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Cleon Davis Georgia Institute of Technology

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Comprehensive Examination of the Impact of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program on Minority Enrollment in Graduate School Abstract

A widespread strategy to encourage minority students to attend graduate school in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is to engage students in undergraduate research. The Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Science (SURE) program at [INSTITUTION]--a highly selective technology-focused research institution--was first implemented in 1992. SURE is a ten-week summer program for junior- and senior-level minority undergraduates from a variety of institutions. Students paired with faculty and graduate mentors on research projects attend enrichment activities and conclude the program with research presentations to their peers and program faculty. In 2005, a survey of former SURE participants was conducted. Of the 62 respondents who had completed their bachelors’ degrees, 72.6 percent indicated they had enrolled in or completed a graduate program of study. In addition to the positive impact the SURE experience had on the decision to attend graduate school (93.5 percent of respondents), this research uses logistic regression techniques to illuminate other relevant factors on graduate school attendance--such as attitudes about graduate school before SURE, the environment of the home institution, academic encouragement from others, and frequency of contact with SURE faculty and mentors after program completion.


Despite some gains in the representation of minorities in engineering and science fields, a relatively small number of underrepresented minorities (16% in 1999) graduated with degrees in those fields.1 Although this figure represents a modest increase over the previous decade, minority representation drops significantly for advanced engineering degrees, and only 11.5% of Master’s and 8.7% of the Ph.D. degrees awarded in that same year were earned by these students. This underrepresentation has led to a proportionally small percentage of tenure-track minority science and engineering faculty (6.8%). The encouraging upward trend in undergraduate education among minorities in the STEM fields is somewhat tempered by more recent data issued by NSF. According to a 2004 report on the proportion of minority students enrolled in undergraduate engineering programs, enrollment increased steadily from 1990–1998. The trend changed in the late 1990s when minority enrollment actually decreased.1 This decline in undergraduate enrollment could have a negative impact on graduate degrees earned by minority students in engineering.

The decline in undergraduate enrollment in engineering among minorities was noted by Asa 2 who provided a comprehensive examination of minority education trends. This decline has occurred despite efforts by institutions to attract and retain minority students in engineering. In the STEM fields overall, earned bachelor’s among minority populations rose throughout the 1990s and narrowed the gap between white and non-white degree holders.1 At the master’s degree level, the number of degrees earned among these populations also increased.

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