Self-Efficacy Is the Key

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Science  06 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6150, pp. 1044
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6150.1044-a

The natural response to the shift toward inquiry-based science education is an increase in faculty-mentored undergraduate research experiences (UREs). Large amounts of data describe the impact of UREs on student gains in performing research-related procedures, thinking and working like a scientist, and interest in graduate school. Much less is known about the processes through which student gains are achieved and the organization and dynamics of specific URE programs. Adedokun et al. used structural equation modeling to explore a URE program with a specific focus on exploring the relationships among three key outcomes: research skills, research self-efficacy, and aspiration for research careers. A post-participation survey was given to 156 students who typically spent 4 to 10 hours per week in their faculty mentor's laboratory and attended a seminar class on research conduct. Modeling data showed significant direct relationships between research skills and research self-efficacy, and between research skills and aspirations. Additionally, positive relationships between self-efficacy and aspirations and an indirect effect of research skills on aspirations via self-efficacy were shown. Research self-efficacy thus partially mediates the relationship between research skills and student aspirations for research careers.

J. Res. Sci. Teach. 10.1002/tea.21102 (2013).

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