Second IDI Cohort

The following are the abstracts of successfully funded IDI grant projects, written by GW community members, that were implemented during the 2013-2014 Academic Year. Projects are listed in alphabetical order by title.

Project Titles:

  • Broadening Opportunities and Stimulating Excitement in STEM
  • Examining Online Master's Students' Resources, Strategies, and Practices for Success
  • Global Identities and Diversity Outreach Grants Application
  • I Am GW Diversity Campaign
  • Inclusive Spaces: Breaking Down Invisible Walls
  • Mentored Experience To Expand Opportunities in Research (METEOR) Program
  • Promoting English for Academic Purposes Online (PEAPOL) Project
  • University Archives Diversity Research Fellowship

Broadening Opportunities and Stimulating Excitement in STEM

Students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines are known to be in short supply in the U.S., and these areas particularly suffer from a significant under-representation by groups distinguished by gender, race or socio-economic background. We began to explore this problem locally at GW in our previous IDI grant through a two-day event in April 2013 focused on diversity in STEM, with activities planned for students as well as faculty. Our interdisciplinary group of STEM faculty, staff and graduate students is now planning to take the next step by proposing a series of colloquium talks that will emphasize research in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics, with a particular focus on opportunities for under-represented groups in these areas.

Examining Online Master's Students' Resources, Strategies, and Practices for Success

Goals: This mixed method study will investigate the resources, strategies, and practices that have supported online master’s students in the GSEHD’s Education Technology Leadership (ETL) and SON’s Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Research Administration, Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Care Quality, Nursing Leadership and Management and Nurse-Midwifery (Master’s in Nursing—MSN) programs, or that they perceive could have supported them, for success. Based on this study, a webinar summarizing the resources, strategies, and practices for supporting diverse online master’s students’ needs will be created and disseminated through a GW-wide webinar.

Most GSEHD-ETL and SON-MSN students have been out of school for several years, have not participated in online or graduate coursework, require assistance in understanding graduate school expectations, and lack confidence—all factors that might hinder their success. Non-traditional students (i.e., underrepresented minorities [URM], students who have not been in school for several years, have never participated in online graduate work, and/or are international students) often experience these barriers, but have unique needs that are often overlooked. Yet, we view these barriers as opportunities to foster student professional growth that is tailored to unique students’ needs. Ultimately we seek to increase access to quality graduate education, as well as to increase diversity in the workforce, which is critical in medically underserved areas and in the technology field. Developing future educational technology and nursing profession leaders depends on identifying and supporting their unique needs as they transition to demanding graduate online education. With little existing research examining student supports for, and the needs of, non-traditional students enrolled in online master’s level courses, we believe this study has the potential to improve students’ experiences in our programs, as well as other existing and evolving online programs throughout GW. Moreover, we are very concerned about determining how we can best support our students, particularly students who might increase the diversity of our student body and the workforce, as well.

Global Identities and Diversity Outreach Grants Application

The Office for Study Abroad (OSA) is uniquely positioned to facilitate conversations about diversity and inclusion. Part of our mission is to “foster cultural understanding and self-awareness among the student body.” We strive to fulfill this component through existing student programs such as Focus on Fall Abroad Community, various outreach events that include alumni-led race abroad panel discussions, and organized staff trainings on topics ranging from LGBTQIA issues to religious diversity. Yet, we want to expand and deepen the conversation, using our office as a forum. 

To this end, we are requesting funds to support two simultaneous projects. We propose the use of digital storytelling as a medium through which students explore their identities while immersed in a community abroad. This project will allow students to reflect profoundly on perceptions of identity in the United States and in their host countries. In turn, these stories will be shared with a larger audience to encourage dialogue. Participants would be chosen by a panel comprising representatives from the Multicultural Student Services Center and the OSA. 

We would also like to expand our outreach and education efforts to encourage non-traditional students to study abroad through supplementing our student worker staff budget. According to the most recent Open Doors Report* 77.8 percent of U.S. students studying abroad identify their race as white. These figures are similar to the racial breakdown of GW students studying abroad. In candid conversation with students of color, students have suggested that we increase our outreach efforts to minorities. This student worker would collaborate with various clubs and offices on campus to organize events aimed at breaking down barriers for minorities. 

With funding for these two projects, we believe we will not only continue to further our office’s mission of mutual understanding, but will also be a platform for expanding on GW’s goals related to diversity and inclusion.

I Am GW Diversity Campaign

This will be a campus-wide visual campaign entitled “I Am GW.” Its purpose is to increase the visibility of diversity in the GW community, to engage GW students, faculty, and staff in meaningful conversation about the implications of diversity and inclusion, to empower student leaders to make visible change surrounding their communities’ understanding of diversity, and to push students to be allies for diverse causes with which they may not have identified.

Inclusive Spaces: Breaking Down Invisible Walls

Part research project, part panel talk, "Inclusive Spaces: Breaking Down Invisible Walls," will open up community dialogue on the ways in which the spaces at GWU both include and exclude certain populations.  Through student-driven research and public discussion, we hope to explore avenues for accommodating one frequently overlooked demographic--the blind and visually impaired.  Under the guidance of the investigators, student researchers will analyze a wide array of existing and emerging technologies that cater to the blind and visually impaired.  Their findings (to be collected in a formal report to the DSS and OVPDI) will supplement the panel talk, in which area architects and administrators entertain the legal, aesthetic, and financial implications of universal design.  Student research, of interest to faculty and administrators working on accessibility initiatives, will be centered in Gelman Library.  The panel will be targeted at both students and faculty (chiefly, in Geography, Computer Science, and Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the University Writing Program) and will take place on the Foggy Bottom campus, preferably in a room with seating capacity of at least 100.  As a whole, the project is designed to engage undergraduates in applied humanities research, to raise awareness about the often problematic relationship between space and accessibility, and to expose interdisciplinary avenues for further collaboration.

Mentored Experience To Expand Opportunities in Research (METEOR) Program

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National (CTSI-CN) Mentored Experience To Enhance Opportunities in Research (METEOR) Program is an innovative program for under-represented minority (URM) medical students at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS).  The METEOR Program was launched in Summer 2012 to increase the participation and likelihood of successful matriculation of under-represented minority (URM) medical program trainees in clinical and translational research (CTR) through a long-term mentored educational experience.  The program is promoted as a competitive fellowship opportunity to URM students who have been admitted to GW’s medical program, with the hope that it will serve as an incentive for highly-qualified URM students who are interested in an academic research career to enroll and successfully matriculate at GW.  Students are matched with a clinical researcher at either GW or CNMC who serves as a mentor through the duration of the four-year program and beyond.  Students are expected to participate in all elements of the mentor’s research operation, including proposal and manuscript writing, clinical and/or laboratory rounds, and the IRB approval process, if applicable.  METEOR students attend a weekly summer education series and enroll in the Research Track of the medical school curriculum.  These lecture series are augmented by field trips to institutions critical to biomedical research and uniquely situated in the DC area, including the NIH Clinical Center and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  An  Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion Grant will allow for the enhancement of the METEOR Program through the offering of a half-day workshop on mentoring of URM trainees and rigorous program evaluation.  The METEOR Program may serve as a model for mentorship of URM students for the University and nationally.

Promoting English for Academic Purposes Online (PEAPOL) Project

The PEAPOL Project (Promoting English for Academic Purposes Online) is an innovation and inclusion projection for GW online learners, a currently underserved student population. The project, located in the School of Nursing (SON)  is a four-month, replicable, pilot project to improve faculty and school capacity to identify, assess, provide resources to, refer for services and develop ongoing support for graduate (SON) students with writing and comprehension challenges. All SON graduate programs are distance education with online students.

Developed by the School of Nursing in collaboration with The Language Center, the project addresses the unique needs of the under recognized and underserved English as a Second Language (ESL) or otherwise language-challenged online student population, making it an ideal project for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. In keeping with the university’s mission to provide a “true learning environment, on and off campus”, the PEAPOL Project can serve as a pilot for other schools with distance education programs in increasing the capacity to identify, assess and include these students in campus resources and services.  

Three current problem areas create barriers for this population of students: 1) the potential difficulties of the heavily writing-dependent online learning environment for students challenged by writing and/or comprehension, 2) the lack of early assessment efforts and identification of students with communication challenges, and 3) the inconsistent availability of resources to online ESL or language-challenged students.

The funds requested in this grant would support a .5 FTE graduate assistant to work with SON faculty for four months to assist in 1) the research and development of faculty training materials and resource website, 2) data collection, 3) help on assessment of incoming graduate class at orientation, 4) support during the implementation of an internal tracking system for faculty and advisors, and the preparation of the final project report. Other project costs are detailed in the attached budget but are associated with the administration of the assessment tool to 130 incoming students.

Project outcomes include: 1) delivery of a faculty in-service including a pre and post survey, 2) instituting the use of a writing assessment tool with over 130 new SON graduate students, 3) delivering a writing workshop to the new students, and 4) evaluating admission data versus assessment data in order to improve admissions ability to identify students in need of support.

University Archives Diversity Research Fellowship

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” -Pearl S. Buck
This project seeks to create four research fellowships that will support graduate and undergraduate students in conducting research using University Archives collections to uncover and place in social and historical context the rich story of diversity at the George Washington University. The fellowships will create an opportunity for students to advance their academic interests while also conducting research that greatly enhances the entire university community as they shed light on topics such as the history of women, veterans, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, etc. at the George Washington University. The research will directly benefit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion by providing valuable historical background and context as that office tries to understand the history of diversity at the university and continues to develop public programs and outreach to support their mission. The research will also greatly advance the University Archives by increasing our knowledge about our own collections while simultaneously providing us with valuable information to support public programming, outreach and reference services. This will enable the University Archives to provide essential support to departments and offices throughout the university seeking information about specific alumni and the general history of the university. We anticipate that the majority of the research will be conducted in the Special Collections Research Center of the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, but research fellows will also be encouraged to follow their research and utilize other area repositories when appropriate. Students from all schools of the university will be eligible to apply for fellowship support.