Historically, programs aimed at increasing participation by underrepresented minorities (URMs) have reflected intuitive approaches with minimal dependence on hard-to-find research literature. While a growing body of research literature exists on the efficacy of STEM interventions and initiatives, from K-12 through faculty development, it is dispersed across several disciplines and lacks readily identifiable and utilized outlets that practitioners can access and use to inform their program design. In part this is because research scholars approach the issues from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds including psychology, sociology, economics, education, career development, and counseling.
In response to these needs, in 2007 the National Academy of Sciences convened a workshop that assembled individuals drawn from the communities of practice and scholarship related to broadening participation and research careers. The strong interest and enthusiasm has translated into this annual conference on Understanding Interventions That Broaden Participation in Research Careers.
Based on participant observations and the evaluations of past Understanding Interventions conferences, several constituencies are served:
We seek to addresses the different needs and levels of sophistication of our diverse audiences through a number of activities. For example, most program directors are interested to know how to translate the literature or, more specifically, what the literature says. Emerging interventions researchers want to learn more about experimental techniques in Interventions research. Present and future program directors want to learn about effective ways of administering programs and enhancing impact. All of these are covered at our conferences, as well as sessions that address broad and large-scale contextual issues.