Students with Disabilities in Life Science Undergraduate Research Experiences: Challenges and Opportunities

Logan E. Gin, Danielle Pais, Katelyn Cooper, Sara E. Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in postsecondary science education and in science careers, yet few studies have explored why this may be. A primary predictor of student persistence in science is participating in undergraduate research. However, it is unclear to what extent students with disabilities are participating in research and what the experiences of these students in research are. To address this gap in the literature, in study 1, we conducted a national survey of more than 1200 undergraduate researchers to determine the percent of students with disabilities participating in undergraduate research in the life sciences. We found that 12% of undergraduate researchers we surveyed self-identified as having a disability, which indicates that students with disabilities are likely underrepresented in undergraduate research. In study 2, we conducted semistructured interviews with 20 undergraduate researchers with disabilities. We identified unique challenges experienced by students with disabilities in undergraduate research, as well as some possible solutions to these challenges. Further, we found that students with disabilities perceived that they provide unique contributions to the research community. This work provides a foundation for creating undergraduate research experiences that are more accessible and inclusive for students with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ar32
JournalCBE life sciences education
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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