HSI Institutional Transformation Project: The Effectiveness of Psychoeducational Counseling in STEM Internship and Research Experiences

Project Details


With support from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program), this Track 3 project aims to improve students' mental health during undergraduate research and internship experiences at Montclair State University, a 4-year HSI. All students benefit from research and internship experiences because they often result in higher wages and job satisfaction. Due to familial and external circumstances and financial constraints, students who would most benefit often cannot participate. Additionally, these experiences often lack the elements required for students with a breadth of identities and life experiences to feel a sense of belonging. Through partnerships with community colleges, particularly Passaic County Community College, HSIs, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the project will intentionally recruit inclusive cohorts of interns and transfer students who wish to participate in research. Further, Montclair State will create and sustain psychologically affirming internship and research experiences. Specifically, PhD students in Counseling, who are also licensed professional counselors, will facilitate weekly psychoeducational group counseling sessions as part of summer research and internship experiences. Faculty mentors and program managers will participate in their own counselor-facilitated affinity groups to establish best practices for mentoring students with intersecting and marginalized identities. Through integrating a counseling component into research and internship opportunities, project research will study how psychoeducational group counseling influences the experiences of interns, research students, research mentors, and program managers. The team will share the practices broadly within Montclair State and with other institutions of higher education so that they can also integrate counseling into research and internship experiences.The specific aims of the project are to increase participation in high quality STEM experiential learning opportunities across Montclair State; embed professional psychoeducational group counseling into internships and research experiences to create more productive experiential learning opportunities with excellent socio-emotional support; and to generate knowledge on the impacts of this counseling intervention on students, faculty mentors, and program coordinators at an HSI. The project's research team will employ a mixed-methods approach to answer the following questions: 1) what impact does psychoeducational group counseling have on research and internship experiences; 2) does participating in psychoeducational group counseling influence students' sense of hope; and 3) how does participating in counselor-facilitated, weekly affinity groups impact research mentors and project managers? The hypothesis is that the counseling component will provide students with clarity regarding their career paths; increased group-cohesion; the confidence and tools to confront and disrupt racism; necessary mental health support; and mentally-safe and inclusive internship and research experiences. This work will increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who pursue and persist in STEM internships and careers and will be shared broadly to encourage adoption at institutions nationwide. This project is funded by the HSI Program, which aims to enhance undergraduate STEM education, broaden participation in STEM, and build capacity at HSIs.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date15/06/2431/05/29


  • National Science Foundation: $3,000,000.00


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