Brandi Geisinger serves as the lead evaluator for the George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Programs. These programs, aimed at diverse high school and college students, focus on student training in STEM fields (particularly CALS-related subjects). The program seeks to strengthen student training through increased diversity and wider access to experiential learning in STEM fields for minority students. Guided by CALS research faculty members and graduate assistants, undergraduate students are exposed to research opportunities in a wide variety of fields based on the expertise of the CALS faculty members they are assigned to and the student’s background. Interns are expected to prepare a report, poster, and oral presentation about their research experience by the end of the summer. Beyond research opportunities, students are also exposed to weekly cultural events, professional development programs, and educational seminars.
Annual evaluation of the programs include pre- and post-program surveys and focus groups. Mentors of the students were additionally invited to complete a survey about their experiences with the programs and working with the students. The evaluation of the George Washington Carver Program has been informed by other studies of summer research students and outcomes, as well as best practices for evaluation (Bauer & Bennett 2003; Brew 2003; Cobb 1994; Eagan et al. 2011; Gonzalez-Espada & LaDue 2006; Haen et al. 2012; Handelsman et al. 2005; Hathaway et al. 2002; Lopatto 2004; Lopatto 2007; Pascarella & Terenzini 2005; Russell 2004; Russell et al. 2007; Sadler et al. 2010; Seymour et al. 2004; Zydney et al. 2002). Impacts of the evaluation include gaining an understanding of the value of the program in preparing undergraduate students to attend graduate school in related fields, and supporting and encouraging data collection activities that demonstrate the impact of the program and provide guidance for program improvement.