Journal of Nursing Education

A Research Development Program for Minority Honors Students

Jillian Inouye, RN, PhD



This article describes an experiential undergraduate honors research program for minority students. Through a participatory and mentoring process students are able to complete a research project, present it at a national colloquium, and prepare it for publication in a 2-year program. A review of the literature on different methods to teach research was presented. The outcome of the project suggests the model was highly successful in achieving its goals.



This article describes an experiential undergraduate honors research program for minority students. Through a participatory and mentoring process students are able to complete a research project, present it at a national colloquium, and prepare it for publication in a 2-year program. A review of the literature on different methods to teach research was presented. The outcome of the project suggests the model was highly successful in achieving its goals.


Minorities are underrepresented as both participants and investigators in most areas of mental health research. To involve and build minority participation, time, money, expertise and a mentoring system are necessary to interest potential researchers early in their academic Uves. According to Weekee (1989), preparation of minority nurses is among the most important pressing educational issues today. However, rarely are these nurses socialized as scholars through relationships with mentors. Stefano and Leung (1986) state that research programs require longterm individual commitments with institutional and faculty support. Such a program exists through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which is dedicated to increasing the number of minority scientists in biomedical research (National Institute of General Medical Sciences, 1989).

As early as 1974, Carnegie (1974) proposed that the research attitude begins on the undergraduate level. In 1988 to 1989, the American Nurses Association's (ANA) Cabinet on Nursing Research revised the ANA's published guidelines regarding professional expectations of nurses to conduct research appropriate to their academic preparation. They note that the BSN-prepared nurse is expected to participate in the identification of clinical problems, facilitate access to clinical sites, assist in the implementation of research, and use research findings in clinical practice. Levine (1983) has argued that the development and implementation of an independent research project should be reserved for graduate students. Yet others say poor utilization of research continues to plague the profession (Harrison, Lowery, & Bailey, 1991); that students enter these courses with negative attitudes and expectations (Laschinger, Johnson, & Kohr, 1990); that while didactic presentation of content or discussion can convey the principles of research, it may not convince the student to value it (Dean, 1986).

The purpose of this article is to summarize the literature related to teaching research and to present a research development program for minority undergraduate honors students at the University of Hawaii. The short-term goal of this training was to strengthen the research component for minority students. The long-term goal was to increase the number of minority students entering mental health graduate programs, with the subsequent objective to increase the number of minority professionals in the mental health field. In addition, this model attempts to instill the zest for research that yields practitioners who see nursing research as a foundation for nursing practice.

Literature Review

A review of the literature was conducted using the following search terms: minority groups, education - nursing, research, teaching, curriculum, and ethnic. The databases used for the review included Medline, CINAHL, ERIC, and Uncover and covered 1976 through 1993.

While the need for nursing research at the undergraduate level has been established (ANA, 1976; Carnegie, 1974; Shannon, 1988), how it is taught or introduced is another matter. A review of the literature indicates that the goals of a research component in the curriculum fell into two categories: cognitive goals or the consumer role versus professional skills or a participant role (Dvorak, Brophy, Binder, & Carlson, 1993). A review of 291 NLN-accredited baccalaureate programs by Thomas and Price (1980) revealed that undergraduate courses in research focused on preparing the students as consumers of research. Collins, Corder-Mabe, Greenberg, and Crowder (1992) and Duffy (1987) also reviewed the literature on the preparation of students in this category. This review will focus on the latter of the two categories.

The professional skill or participant role in research is taught by various methods and falls into several subcategories. A review of the literature yielded the following strategies used to teach participatory research: action research (Burbach & Baldwin, 1992); mentor-protegee relationship (Collins, Corder-Mabe, Greenberg, & Crowder, 1992; Damrosch, 1987; Humphrey & Woods, 1980); cooperative learning strategies (Laschinger, Locke & Stutsky, 1993); group or class collaborative projects (Bzdek & Ganong, 1986; Damrosch, 1987; Harrison, Lowery, & Bailey, 1991; O'Grady & Haukenes, 1978; Pennebaker, 1991; Rinke, 1979); research as part of the clinical content and integrated through the curriculum (Collins, CorderMabe, Greenberg, & Crowder, 1992; Davis, 1981; Gohsman, 1983; Rogers & Cowles, 1990; Sakalys, 1985); participant observation (Dean, 1986; Gueldner, Clayton, Bramlett, & Boettcher, 1993); student involvement in faculty research in a group (Humphrey & Woods, 1980; Shelley, 1983); and a special honors program (Burkhalter & Kim, 1976).

The only minority research training projects in the literature were focused on graduate student training. Escobedo (1981) described a 3-year project, established at the University of Texas at Austin to enhance the educational research skills of minorities and women. Another special project by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (1972) describes a 6- week graduate course at New York University during a summer session to provide research training for minority graduate students. Reports by both programs revealed success of the program in that most participants continued in research activities or completed the doctoral degree.

Kramer, Holaday, & Hoeffer (1981) identified the following two essential elements that influence research productivity: 1) early emergence of students in ongoing projects; and 2) a close relationship between students and professors who are productive researchers.

In addition, a survey of teachers of nursing research by Laschinger, Johnson, & Kohr (1990) found that student involvement in the process appears to foster more positive attitudes toward nursing research. Results of the reviewed research teaching methods indicate that these components are essential for increasing productivity and positive attitudes in students.


Sakalys (1985) has suggested that a single research course taught at the end of a nursing program is not likely to promote development of cognitive processes fundamental to scientific inquiry. In addition, Thiele (1984) found that placement of a research course early (the sophomore year as compared to later) in nursing education greatly increased application of nursing research content and methods in the students' nursing practice. Shannon (1988) reiterated the need to provide students with comprehensive information about research careers in nursing in their early stages of educational development. It is essential to develop needed knowledge and skills for the conduct of both independent and collaborative research in a research-intensive environment and with active faculty researchers to serve as mentors and collaborators.

A need exists to promote choices of a possible research career for minority student populations at an early stage in their career development. This project addresses this need with methods the literature supports.

University of Hawaii's MARC/COR Program

The University of Hawaii, through the School of Social Work, received a grant from the then named Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMA) to support a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program in Social Work, Psychology and Nursing in which a substantial student enrollment is drawn from minority groups. Eleven other schools in the nation have received such support for mental health research training. The MARC Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program was established in 1977 and enables students to strengthen their research capabilities through improved science curricula, seminars, off-campus research experience, colloquium presentations, and other special activities in an apprenticeship model. With the reorganization at the federal level, the program has subsequently been placed under the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and renamed College Opportunities in Research (COR). While most of the grants were given to psychology, social work, and other social sciences, the University of Hawaii is the only program which has a School of Nursing involved.

Requirements for admission into the program include membership of a minority/underrepresented group, a minimum 3.5 GPA, and a commitment to take approximately 15 extra credits in directed research and methods beyond the normal course load. In addition, students are selected with a strong commitment to subsequently obtain the doctoral degree. In return, they are provided tuition, a stipend, research expenses for their research project, and the opportunity to work with a faculty preceptor/mentor.


Program Plan

In addition to the basic statistics and nursing research required of all nursing students, the COR students complete a tests and measurements course, a 3-credit directed research course every semester with a faculty mentor, and participate in a summer internship either at the home institution with their preceptors or at other institutions. Placement with research faculty is based on student interest and faculty study.

In three semesters, the students cover the entire research process and participate in research along with the faculty mentor. The understanding is that the students will be able to develop their own research question, develop the problem, review the literature, acquire human subjects' approval, carry out a program of study, analyze data, evaluate the results, and present their findings at a scholarly forum of their peers and at the annual NIMH/COR Colloquium.

The first few months of study consist of orientation to the COR program, involvement with the library computer searches, and gaining familiarity with different databases. Students are introduced to poster production and public speaking. The students are encouraged to do a review of the literature by the end of their first semester.

For the next few months the student is involved in close supervision and preceptorship with a faculty member to discuss research problems and the design of their study or involvement with the faculty's study. Further literature review is continued.

Summer internships are provided in an outside agency either through a COR minority summer internship program or through the preceptors' contacts with other research projects in outside institutions. Summer internships with stipends are available to further their own program of study, become involved with another faculty mentor's study, or develop a new research program for the summer. Examples of these summer internships include one student's involvement with a local hospital's ulcer research project, and another with the University of San Francisco's research project on maternal-child health care in Hawaii and San Francisco.

The third semester involves completion of the data gathering, analysis, and write-up for presentation. Students also prepare for presentation at the annual COR colloquium.

In the last semester, the final write-up of the conclusions and discussion is completed. Assistance is given in presentation format such as slide making, poster presentation, and practice in oral presentations. Students have presented their studies with other graduate nursing students at the Scholarly Day presentation at the University of Hawaii School of Nursing. The culmination of the final semester is the presentation of their studies at the annual National COR Colloquium. Students are exposed to mentors and students from other schools, view poster sessions of student studies, participate in tours of the National Library of Medicine, the National Institute of Health and other federal agencies related to mental health. There is also a recruitment fair where information and application assistance from various schools across the nation on graduate study is available to the students.

Results and Model and Policy Implications

The results of this 2-year program will be discussed in terms of the impact on the research scholars.

Trainee Research

To date, five scholars have graduated from this program. The Table presents the titles of the students' works.

Students were encouraged to submit their manuscripts to refereed journals. One student is in the process of resubmitting her article after review and two other papers are in preparation.

Graduate Admission

Of the five recent graduates, three are in graduate school, and one is working and preparing to enter graduate school. One student's whereabouts is unknown.


TABLETitles of Research Manuscripts and Internship Projects


Titles of Research Manuscripts and Internship Projects

Student Outcomes

The program allowed students to travel to other institutions, attend a national conference in their field, and attend the National NIMH/COR Colloquium that promotes confidence and a broadened experience. Student statements about their experience while they were MARC students include:

The exposure I got at the colloquium was incredible, seeing other students' works and meeting with them and their professors were just a small part of the learning experience. It is also a great opportunity to examine other schools and their graduate programs when they have their recruitment day. The MARC program allowed me to develop as a researcher, a nursing student, and a possible future scientist in the nursing field ... At times, surviving nursing school itself may become the number one priority for a MARC student, and the program allowed me to concentrate on schoolwork as necessary. In fact, I was able to apply the knowledge and skills learned from my MARC research project to various classes like nursing research, problembased learning groups, and clinical settings. By integrating my research skills into nursing courses, I was able to grasp the idea that research was not just a course to be learned. Research is a vital aspect of nursing education. There is more to nursing than bedside care and hospitals. The MARC program opened the door to opportunities beyond the average nursing class. It allowed me to interact with nurse researchers and help narrow the gap between the research world and myself as the individual. Initially, my future plans did not involve graduate school, much less a doctoral program, but the quest for knowledge began as I accepted my abilities as a researcher. By traveling, I met other students, observed a major nursing project being implemented, experienced a graduate course at UCSF, became acquainted with more nurse researchers, and most of all, saw what my future may entail.


According to Gueldner, Clayton, Bramlett, & Boettcher (1993), the "subtle but critical ambience of scientific inquiry cannot be captured from readings and classroom acts alone. Tb successfully socialize professional entry into the fullest contemporary role of research, it is important that students see their faculty conducting research as well as see them as competent clinicians.* A close mentoring program appears to work well in assisting the socialization of students from novice to expert researchers.

This is consistent with Harrison, Lowery, & Bailey's (1991) findings that baccalaureate students did not retain sufficient knowledge about research process through traditional methods. They found a sharp decline in knowledge scores between the end of the course and more so at the end of the nursing programs. No difference was found between knowledge scores at the beginning of the course and at the end. This study and others raise the questions, how should research be taught and should it be incorporated into clinical nursing courses where students can have five experience with the process (Down, 1980; Lindeman & Tanner, 1990)? This development program supports these notions as well as provision of a close relationship with a faculty mentor which seems essential to instilling a positive attitude and self-confidence in minority students regarding research careers.


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Titles of Research Manuscripts and Internship Projects


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