Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Member

Dr. Michelle Cook, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Cassie Quigley

Committee Member

Dr. Mindy Spearman

Committee Member

Dr. Victoria Corbin

Abstract

Educational programs created to provide opportunities for all, in reality often reflect social inequalities. Such is the case for Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR) Projects. PPSR projects have been proposed as an effective way to engage more diverse audiences in science, yet the demographics of PPSR participants do not correspond with the demographic makeup of the United States. The field of PPSR as a whole has struggled to recruit low SES and underrepresented populations to participate in project research efforts. This research study explores factors, which may be affecting an underrepresented community's willingness to engage in scientific research and provides advice from PPSR project leaders in the field, who have been able to engage underrepresented communities in scientific research, on how to overcome these barriers. Finally the study investigates the theoretical construct of a Third Space within a PPSR project. The research-based recommendations for PPSR projects desiring to initiate and sustain research partnerships with underrepresented communities well align with the theoretical construct of a Third Space. This study examines a specific scientific research partnership between an underrepresented community and scientific researchers to examine if and to what extent a Third Space was created. Using qualitative methods to understand interactions and processes involved in initiating and sustaining a scientific research partnership, this study provides advice on how PPSR research partnerships can engage underrepresented communities in scientific research. Study results show inequality and mistrust of powerful institutions stood as participation barriers for underrepresented community members. Despite these barriers PPSR project leaders recommend barriers can be confronted by open dialogue with communities about the abuse and alienation they have faced, by signaling respect for the community, and by entering the community through someone the community already trusts. Finally although many of the principles of a Third Space well align with the larger level of activity, which existed in the PPSR project examined in this study, study findings challenge others to critically examine assumptions behind the idea of a Third Space in PPSR and urge other PPSR project leaders towards a transformed view of science.

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