Graduate student Nick Mason recently published a paper with lead author Cissy Ballen to examine the effects of a campus support program for underrepresented minorities, first-generation students, and women in biology: the Biology Scholars Program (BSP) at Cornell. Together, Cissy and Nick found evidence of a disparity in preparedness among different groups of students, in which underrepresented minorities that participated in the BSP were less prepared than their non-underrepresented counterparts and those that did not participate in the BSP. However, the authors found that participation in the biology scholars program ‘closed the performance gap’ between BSP students and their non-BSP counterparts. The authors conclude that while the BSP seems to be achieving its goal in helping underrepresented demographics in biology, the exact reasons for their success are hard to pinpoint. Nick and Cissy argue that while many institutions have similar programs across the nation, few campus-wide diversity initiatives have taken a quantitative approach to rigorously assess their performance and evaluate potential avenues for further improvement.
Ballen, C. J., & Mason, N. A. (2017). Longitudinal Analysis of a Diversity Support Program in Biology: A National Call for Further Assessment. Bioscience. http://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biw187