Background: The University of California at Irvine Interdisciplinary Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (ID-SURE) program had three objectives: (1) designing an interdisciplinary health promotion training curriculum for undergraduate research fellows; (2) developing measures for evaluating and assessing program-related educational processes and products; and (3) comparing these educational process and product measures between groups of students who did or did not receive the training. Methods: A total of 101 students participated in the ID-SURE program during 2005, 2006, and 2007. A longitudinal research design was employed whereby students' interdisciplinary attitudes and behaviors were assessed at the beginning and end of the training program. The interdisciplinary and intellectual qualities of students' academic and research products were assessed at the conclusion of the training activities. In addition, ID-SURE participants' interdisciplinary attitudes, behaviors, and research products were compared to those of 70 participants in another fellowship program that did not have an interdisciplinary training component. Results: Exposing undergraduate research fellows to the interdisciplinary curriculum led to increased participation in, and positive attitudes about, interdisciplinary classroom and laboratory activities. Products, such as the integrative and interdisciplinary quality of student research projects, showed no differences when compared to those of undergraduates who were not exposed to the interdisciplinary curriculum. However, undergraduates exposed to the training engaged in more interdisciplinary behaviors at the end of the program than students who were not trained in interdisciplinary research techniques. Conclusions: The findings from this study offer evidence for the efficacy of the ID-SURE program for training undergraduate students in transdisciplinary concepts, methods, and skills that are needed for effective scientific collaboration. Additionally, this study makes two important contributions to the development and evaluation of interdisciplinary health research training programs: (1) It presents and evaluates a novel curriculum for training undergraduate students in interdisciplinary theories, concepts, and methods of health promotion that can be replicated in other settings and contexts; (2) It provides and tests the reliability of new measures for evaluating interdisciplinary collaborative processes and develops objective criteria for rating the integrative and intellectual quality of students' research products.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health