The Stanford SEPA Project
Most U.S. programs developed to enhance the academic success of low-income and/or underrepresented minority (URM) students in the health sciences have focused on students who have completed post-secondary education rather than high school students. Almost none have evaluated long-term college and career outcomes or offered public health investigations relevant to low-income communities.
To address these gaps, the Stanford SEPA Project will bring together an NIH-funded public health research program on health disparities and the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program (SMYSP), which offers science education programs for low-income and URM high school students, to promote the participation of these students in science activities and health disparities research relevant to their communities. As these students enter science and health careers, their knowledge and leadership will enhance the health in low-income communities. The project staff will partner with high school teachers to produce science activities for students from rural and inner-city California communities. Curricular activities will be based on scientific inquiry and use the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model of Instruction, and students will observe and participate in activities in communities, schools, hospitals and laboratories.
The project will:
- Assess the impact of SMYSP’s university-based summer program
- Develop best practices for high school teachers and post-secondary educators
- Promote participation, near-peer mentoring and leadership among alumni from the university-based program
- Develop, pilot test and implement a new health disparities curriculum
- Disseminate best practices and the health disparities curriculum to other school districts and post-secondary institutions.
The majority of U.S. programs developed to enhance the academic success of low-income and underrepresented minority (URM) students in the health sciences have focused on high-achieving students who have completed their post-secondary educations. Fewer have focused on high school students, and almost none have reported evaluation research on long-term college and career outcomes. Most of these programs have offered basic and clinical science research experiences rather than public health investigations relevant to low-income students, families, and communities.
Melding public health research with science education to address these gaps, the Stanford SEPA Project will bring together two complementary programs, a renowned NIH-funded public health research program on health disparities, and the highly successful Stanford Medical Youth Science Program (SMYSP), an organization that offers university- and school-based science education programs for low-income and URM high school students and their parents.
SMYSP has trained 476 low-income students of whom 99% have enrolled in college, 82% have completed a four-year college degree, and of these students, 48% have gone on to post-graduate training. However, to date, the NIH-funded research program has not been integrated with SMYSP. As SMYSP enters a new phase, the Stanford SEPA Project staff will partner with high school teachers to produce new, innovative science activities for low-income and URM high school students from rural and inner city communities in Northern and Central California. It will then disseminate best practices and programs to broader audiences. All curricular activities will be based on scientific inquiry, and use the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model of Instruction where “thinking is visible” and students directly observe and participate in hands-on activities in community, school, hospital, and laboratory settings.
- Conduct a case/control study to assess the impact of SMYSP’s university-based summer residential program using a well-matched comparison group (120 cases and 240 controls).
- Develop 10 step-by-step SMYSP Best Practice Guides for high school teachers and post-secondary educators.
- Promote participation, near-peer mentoring, and leadership among 476 student and 148 Stanford student staff alumni from the university-based program by integrating them into the newly formed SMYSP Alumni Association and four regional College Clusters, and training them to work with post-secondary institutions interested in replicating SMYSP Best Practices.
- Develop, pilot test, and implement a new high school-based Health Disparities Curriculum to be piloted (60 students) and tested (120 students) in one high school in the San Jose East Side Unified High School District (ESUHSD), a large under-resourced school district with 11 high schools.
- Integrate the Health Disparities Curriculum into science/health programs at the 10 other ESUHSD high schools (825–1,375 students/year reached) and disseminate the Best Practice Guides and Health Disparities Curriculum to other interested school districts, and local/national post-secondary institutions.