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You are watching: What is the nature of a problem

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Suggested Citation:"1 The Nature of the Problem." National Research Council. 2007. Understanding Interventions That Encourage Minorities to Pursue Research Careers: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12022.
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Suggested Citation:"1 The Nature of the Problem." National Research Council. 2007. Understanding Interventions That Encourage Minorities to Pursue Research Careers: Overview of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12022.
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Suggested Citation:"1 The Nature of the Problem." National Research Council. 2007. Understanding Interventions That Encourage Minorities to Pursue Research Careers: Rundown of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12022.
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Suggested Citation:"1 The Nature of the Problem." National Research Council. 2007. Understanding Interventions That Encourage Minorities to Pursue Research Careers: Synopsis of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12022.


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Suggested Citation:"1 The Nature of the Problem." National Research Council. 2007. Understanding Interventions That Encourage Minorities to Pursue Research Careers: Rundown of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12022.

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1 The Nature of the Problem“W e are confronted through a really expensive difficulty,” said Clifton A. Poodry, director of the Division of Minority Oppor- tunities in Research (MORE) within the NationalInstitute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH). The scientific workforce responsible foradvances in understanding needed to improve humale health and wellness and also health is not representative of the basic populace. Afrideserve to Ameri-cans, Hispanics, Amerideserve to Indians, and other minority groups aresevecount understood for among the scientific workpressure in generaland also among biomedical and also behavior researchers in particular.As Orlanexecute L. Taylor, vice provost for study, dean of the gradu-ate college, and professor of interaction at Howard College,defined the challenge, “research resides at the core of leader-ship and also imagination and also innovation. . . . As our demographics changeradically in the country, and also as the competition is altering radically,we recognize we cannot retain American management without greaterparticipation by the full range of Amerideserve to people. . . . We mustentice, retain, and also graduate even more persons from the teams that arethe fastest growing teams in the country.” Greater diversity among the clinical workpressure serves bothabstract and also instant objectives, sassist Taylor. It demonstrates thatthe highest possible levels of success are easily accessible to the members ofany team. It additionally enhances acknowledgment of the complete variety of chal-lenges affecting those in the USA, since minority research- 

 UNDERSTANDING INTERVENTIONSers bring perspectives to their occupational that may not be prevalent amongnon-minority researchers. “It is not just that you are fulfilling theAmerihave the right to dream by bringing civilization in,” said Taylor. Greater diver-sity likewise “improves the talents of white and also male researchers.” In his keynote attend to, NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni empha-sized the importance of diversity to NIH’s future. “The diversity ofthe scientific workpressure has to be a reflection of the society withinwhich it lives,” he sassist. “Otherwise you finish up via scienceending up being a sort of elite task of a couple of, quite than the socialtask that underpins the toughness of society.” In 2050, Zerhounimentioned, more than fifty percent of the UNITED STATE population will consist ofminority teams that are presently underrepresented in science. “Itis a strategic imperative that we succeed in making sure that wehave the scientific body in 20 to 30 years that represents the vitalityof our society.” Today’s scientific workforce is a really long method from reflectingthe makeup of the wider culture. The depiction of minoritieswithin the pipeline bring about the PhD and also to research careers dropsat each succeeding educational level. In 2004, African Americans,who constitute about 13 percent of the UNITED STATE populace, receivedabout 9 percent of the baccalaureate degrees at U.S. col-leges and universities yet much less than 4 percent of the PhDs awardedto UNITED STATE citizens. Hispanics, that constitute more than 14 percent ofthe UNITED STATE population, got much less than 7 percent of the bachelor’sdegrees and only a small more than 3 percent of the PhD degrees.Even Eastern Americans, though overstood for in some areas, areunderstood for in others. In short, sassist Taylor, “tbelow is fairly apool of world we are losing . We might doubledoctorate production by getting an excellent plumber.” In addition, also when understood for minorities earnPhDs, they appear to be much less likely than white doctoprice recipientsto conduct research study at elite research study colleges. In the 50 biologydepartments that have newly received the the majority of federal capital,for example, the portion of faculty members who are underrep-resented minorities is much less than the percent of understood for   Baccalaureate data: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences,National Center for Education Statistics. 2005. Digest of Education Statistics: 2005.NCES 0006-030. June 2006. Doctoprice data: T.B. Hoffer, V. Welch, Jr., K. Webber, K. Wil-liams, B. Lisek, M. Hess, D. Loew, and I. Guzman-Barron. 2006. Doctorate Recipientsfrom USA Universities: Outline Report 2005. Chicago: National Opinion Re-search Center. (The report provides the outcomes of data gathered in the Survey of EarnedDoctoprices, performed for six federal agencies—NSF, NIH, USED, NEH, USDA, andNASA—by NORC.)

THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM minorities who got biology PhDs from 1983 to 1999, the poolfrom which many of the faculty is attracted. As defined below, fac-ulty members from underrepresented groups may be even more likelyto “offer back” to their neighborhoods and pick to work-related at a widerarray of organizations. Yet as small as these numbers are, a solid discussion deserve to bemade that they would be even smaller without programs designedto encourage minorities to pursue progressed degrees in the biologi-cal, biomedical, and also behavior sciences. While the variety of bio-logical sciences doctoprices awarded to white UNITED STATE citizens and per-manent residents stayed about the very same from 1995 to 2005, growingfrom 3,115 to 3,337, the variety of doctorates awarded to blacks rosefrom 107 to 158 (2.5 to 3.6 percent of the total), and also the number toHispanics from 127 to 227 (2.9 to 5.2 percent). As David R. Citizen,professor of biology at Boston College, told the workshop partici-pants, “the majority of the intervention programs you have participated inand also directed and also led have actually been exceptionally effective.” Zerhouni agreed:“Tbelow is a feeling that nothing functions,” he sassist. “I would certainly submit toyou that this is like saying we would have actually obtained the exact same resultsif those programs had not existed, and also I disagree. I really think thatthese programs have, in truth, facilitated the careers of many kind of scien-tists that would certainly not be successful now without these programs.” But tbelow is a have to relocate beyond idea and also anecdote, to con-duct rigorous research that will certainly identify the essential elements that leadto effective programs. The genuine question, according to Zerhouni, idisplay to optimize the nation’s investments in educational interven-tions. What interventions will certainly have the biggest result, and also howa lot will certainly those investments cost? Both past and present programs have actually included a broad vari-ety of tactics. Some have been designed to remediate under-preparation. Others have actually sought to construct the skills necessary for suc-cess in research study. Some have actually focused on structure supportive learningsettings. Many kind of have offered financial assistance, and also manyhave offered research study experiences as a means to attain more than oneof these objectives. The obvious question to ask of these programs is “what works?”But that easy question is not incredibly coherent, according to Poodry,   Donna J. Nelboy. 2004. “Nelkid Diversity Surveys.” Normale, OK: Diversity in Sci-ence Association.   National Science Foundation, Division of Science Reresources Statistics. 2006. S&EDegrees, By Race/Ethnicity of Recipients: 1995–2004. NSF 07-308. January 2007. SusanT. Hill and also Maurya M. Eco-friendly, project police officers. Arlington. VA.

 UNDERSTANDING INTERVENTIONS“bereason the problem is a facility, multidimensional difficulty.What functions to perform what?” In seeking to method these concerns, Poodry warned againstwhat he called the “n of one”—each individual’s preconceptionsand also understandings based upon his or her own personal experiences.These experiences inevitably shape just how a person sees the world.“If your conclusions concur with what people currently believe, youare a genius,” shelp Poodry. “If you contradict their n of one, you’rea bum. I’ll offer you an example”: Many kind of faculty and administrators tell me that minority science students, particularly the financially disadvantaged, are much even more attracted to professions—the MD—than to study careers, bereason of the potential earning power. What they tell me is that poor people, having actually been negative, are more came to around making the most money. From my n of one, which consists of flourishing up very bad on an Indian reservation, that is pure hogwash. I never before knew a single bad perboy from a minority area who actually felt that method. Getting a great project as a nurse, a teacher, perhaps an engineer, those were stretch purposes. But the concept that we are going to carry out this to make the most money just wasn’t part of my experience.Overturning these “n of one” biases needs “some terrific dataand also thoughtful analyses,” according to Poodry. Asking interestingand answerable inquiries, developing persuasive research studies,and also interpreting information appropriately will be important for convincingaudiences that personal experiences might not constantly be correct. In many type of ways, the existing programs have actually been “borne out ofwhat we intuitively think,” according to DePass. “We think if weput our students in a lab in the summer, it will certainly make a scientist outof them—or it is going to relocate them to science. Have we studiedprecisely ‘does it really work? Is that the finest way to perform it?’ What envi-ronment, what various other factors does one incorporate with that to enhancesuccess?” Part of the trouble in analyzing the advance of the sci-entific workforce is the complicated network-related of paths that human being canfollow to a research career, according to Jeremy M. Berg, the direc-tor of NIGMS. Prospective researchers hail from different kinds ofundergraduate institutions and have had a vast array of experi-ences prior to college. They might end up being researchers through PhDprograms, MD programs, or merged PhD-MD programs. More-over, just some of those who earn PhDs in the organic sciencesseek research study careers.

THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM  To fully understand just how this netoccupational attributes, three funda-mental concerns should be answered, Berg said: • First, what are the probabilities that an individual via aoffered set of characteristics will make the transition from one stageto another? Many kind of kinds of transitions are feasible, because of themultiplicity of routes world can follow to a career in study. Andthe probabilities differ for civilization of various races, ethnic backgrounds, andsex as they move alengthy these courses. • Second, why do world with various features make thedecisions that they do? Though many type of hypotheses seek to answerthis question (as the following area of this report points out), onlyresearch study have the right to be intended to create solid answers. • Third, exactly how deserve to these probabilities be changed? Answeringthis question calls for “a combination of understanding the ‘why’and also a very pragmatic knowledge of what really works empiri-cally,” sassist Berg. “What sorts of interventions really have actually an impact?Are there interventions, say, at the college level, which not onlyinfluence the probcapacity of going on to graduate school however alsopersist in encouraging increasing probabilities for an individual stu-dent going on to a certain path? . . . We need to understand muchbetter what works. It is not simply a question of regimen review,but really knowledge what interventions have actually real influence, howlong it lasts, and also so on.” A significant difficulty in answering these concerns requires time-scales, sassist Berg. Once an intervention is implemented, it takes a longtime to gauge the effects of that intervention on the composition ofuniversity faculty. As a result, intermediate steps are necessary toassess the program’s performance. “Five or 6 years along the means,also though you have not checked out the influence at the end, you have actually some sense of what benchmarks to suppose,” sassist Berg. Havingsuch benchmarks renders it possible to “monitor development so that youare as confident as you can be that the program is most likely to have actually thesort of impact that you intended in the first area.” Anvarious other significant difficulty is just how to specify success. Is a PhD stu-dent who goes to clinical school a failure? “How can we be clear asto what our expectations are however also be realistic?” asked Berg. “Ifyou say a hundred percent of your students have to go on to PhDs,that is going to distort the routine in such a means that you may endup hurting the as a whole outcomes.” A final challenge is determining the facets of a regimen thatare functioning and also those that are not. Researchers have to attempt to under-

 UNDERSTANDING INTERVENTIONSstand also “what elements of the regime are the major and importantcontributors to that kind of success,” according to Berg. This chal-lenge is specifically difficult, detailed Zerhouni, offered that social scienceresearch needs to resolve systems, and also units are regularly difficultto simplify in such a method that the impacts of one part of the systemcan be isolated from various other components. “We cannot use the straightforward anal-ogy of ‘let’s alleviate the trouble,’ because by reducing it to certainparameters that everybody agrees to, you are shedding, in fact, thesignificance of what the concern can be,” Zerhouni shelp. Today, social science researchers have actually not answered the threequestions Berg stated. Even knowing what questions to ask andjust how to answer those inquiries can be complicated. “I am not so surethat I am hearing cogent analyses effective debates aboutwhat are the real motorists,” Zerhouni sassist. People have good willand want to have actually a fair and also simply depiction of populace groupsassociated in scientific research, he ongoing, yet the numbers are not changingas fast as many type of wish they would certainly. “So the charge is basic,” shelp Poodry. “Whatperform we have to recognize in order to define efficient interventions? Whatare the crucial questions? And what are the researchable ques-tions? There are the majority of inquiries, however which ones deserve to actually makeprogression with research? What kinds of study and what kinds ofmethodologies are required to overview and test promising new inter-ventions? . . . Today we desire your aid in concentrating the questionsthat need to be asked and also your guidance as to the appropriate meth-ods to answer them.”