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Can Classroom Interaction with Scientists Positively Influence Science Majors to Consider a Research Career? 
P. J. Baynham, St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX, USA.
 
            St. Edward’s University is a primarily undergraduate Hispanic serving institution where students majoring in biology and biochemistry overwhelmingly intend to enter medicine or dentistry. Many students have limited exposure to research since this is not a public activity and the pace of science does not lend itself to television dramatization. The hypothesis is that when students relate personally with scientists they will be more likely to consider a research career. During the semester seven diverse scientists addressed a microbiology class. While they spoke briefly about their work, the goal was to humanize the speakers and for the students to see them as real people. The 27 students were asked if they were more likely to consider a research career via anonymous online survey and students completed reflective papers in which they identified the two scientists with whom they most related. After this experience, 86% of the students were more likely to consider research while 14% were not. The breakdown for males and females was similar. In choosing the two scientists with whom they most related those selected by the females may have been due to chance alone while the male students’ choices were significantly different. The Caucasian and Hispanic students chose one speaker of the same ethnicity 37% of the time, both speakers of their own ethnicity 26%, and both speakers of an ethnicity different than themselves 37% of the time. These numbers were very similar when looking at the Hispanic and Caucasian student groups separately and all were significant with p values approaching zero. The conclusion is that students are positively influenced to pursue scientific research through interaction with humanized scientists and that ethnicity seems important for all students while for males gender plays a larger role.
 
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