Broadening Participation Research Grant: Improving Minority Student Mathematics Performance and Persistence in STEM Majors Through Cognitive Training
Virginia State University's Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education Project entitled - Improving Minority Student Mathematics Performance and Persistence in STEM Majors Through Cognitive Training - is a joint effort among investigators from the departments of Psychology, Biology, and Mathematics & Computer Science. The overall goal of this research project is to develop and assess the efficacy of cognitive training interventions on working memory performance in minority STEM students which leads to improved mathematics performance. Specific aims include the following: institute and assess the impact of cognitive skills training on working memory and mathematics performance in minority STEM students; develop a model of the mediating and moderating effects of psychosocial and cognitive variables on treatment effects among these students; assess neural changes brought about by each of these interventions through pre- and post- f-MRI scans; and assess the sustainability of the gains through scans one and two years after the initial training.
Direct training of cognitive skills such as attention, working memory, and processing speed, represents a unique method of developing the underlying cognitive architecture needed for success in STEM, and this research will both demonstrate the efficacy of these interventions, as well as allow for a more detailed mapping of the neural correlates of the training for mathematical performance. This project will provide the necessary data to facilitate the dissemination and implementation of these unique educational interventions, and will have an impact on increasing the number of minority students prepared to enter a STEM career. It will also allow for the training of a large number of minority undergraduate and graduate assistants, which will impact the number of minority students pursuing a research career in neuroscience.