Evaluating the Impact of Internships - Longitudinal Participant Tracking in the Soars Program
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
While there is widespread agreement about the benefits of research internship experiences for students, long-term tracking of student progress beyond the summer experience is challenging. Coordinated tracking can effectively document program impact, inform programmatic improvement, and identifying gaps in the internship effort. Tracking can also strengthen diversity efforts and the retention of students from underrepresented groups. Continuous follow-up and guidance can only be provided to students if we know where they are, what they are doing and what they need in order to stay engaged in the field. The SOARS Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research has supported undergraduate students for over 18 years to enter and succeed in graduate school. Over 85% of SOARS participants have transitioned to geoscience graduate programs or the STEM workforce. The SOARS mission is to broaden participation in the atmospheric and related sciences by engaging students from groups historically under-represented in science, including Black or African-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latino, female, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities. SOARS relies on proven intervention strategies such as multi-year research experiences, multifaceted mentoring, and a strong learning community. Fostering relationships developed during this time using a wider range of technologies and program longevity play important roles in tracking participants over time. This presentation will highlight significant program results and share the tracking and evaluation techniques utilized in SOARS.