2020 - 2023
Behavioral science research has firmly established that developing an identity as a scientist is a strong predictor of persistence on the scientific research career path, yet little is known about how LatinX science majors balance their scientific and ethnic identities and how parental support could foster identity balance. The long-term goal is to understand the impact of balancing science and ethnic identities on attrition from the biomedical science career pipeline, and to test the utility of an intervention designed to foster identity balance. The proposed research employs a quasi-experimental, matched control, longitudinal design, to measure the impact of an intervention program with parents of incoming LatinX biomedical science majors. The specific aims are: 1) to measure the immediate impact of the workshop on LatinX parents’ knowledge of and attitudes about science, the value of a science degree, and the compatibility between scientific research and LatinX heritage. 2) to measure the impact of the parental intervention on the short and long- term academic persistence and success of LatinX biomedical science students. 3) to measure the impact of the parental intervention on students’ science identity across time, and the balance between their science and LatinX identities, and 4) to assess the degree to which the effects of the parental intervention on short and longer-term academic outcomes are mediated through scientific-LatinX identity balance. Biomedical discoveries and public health clearly benefit from a diverse biomedical workforce. LatinX parents are a largely untapped, and potentially powerful, resource for decreasing LatinX student flight from the biomedical science career path. The research proposed in this application is innovative because balanced identity design offers a new theoretical approach to understanding how students navigate and balance multiple identities to maintain a strong identity as a scientific researcher. An early intervention with parents has the potential to alter students’ social context to support identity balance. This project is significant because it will provide a theory-driven rigorous empirical understanding how parental education and support can help LatinX biomedical science students achieve academically and balance a strong LatinX identity with an emerging science identity. This parent intervention programs could significantly increase the pool of qualified LatinX doctoral program applicants in less than a decade. A larger pool of diverse and qualified doctoral students has the potential to increase the diversity of the biomedical science workforce by 2040.