Erika Tatiana Camacho
Gabriela D Solis-Cavazos
Laredo Community College
Education and Human Resources (EHR)
The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program supports RAPID projects when there is a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to, data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The project at Laredo Community College, a two-year institution, seeks to investigate the effectiveness of using a fully-virtual undergraduate research format to enhance quantitative reasoning and literacy while promoting student persistence during a pandemic of COVID-19. Additionally, this project seeks to promote faculty development in guiding undergraduate research at a community college and in an online learning environment. This work will include collecting and monitoring data on the rate of infection of the COVID-19 in high-poverty rural communities in Laredo thus increasing the diversity of the data available to scientists. The project may shed light on inequities that have occurred as learning has transitioned to fully-virtual formats and may provide targeted strategies for engaging and encouraging groups historically underrepresented in STEM to degree completion. Students and faculty comprise a two-tier model where the former conduct research on COVID-19 in their communities and the latter examine how these students learn in this setting; this structure may serve as a model for other rural community colleges. By gathering data from the COVID-19 spread in Laredo, this project can be an opportunity to use data to study, to learn, and to prepare for the future, an important component of resiliency. The unique data elements will only exist at this time. An undergraduate research experience will be designed and implemented around data analysis utilizing existing COVID-19 data resources. Students will increase their quantitative reasoning knowledge base, skills set, and confidence level by gathering, interpreting, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions based on numerical evidence, and communicating this information to others. Faculty involved in the project will also gain a quantitative reasoning-focused professional development opportunity. The impact on faculty development for delivering research content material and guiding research virtually as well as students’ transitions into four-year institutions and quantitative reasoning ability will be evaluated. The proposal also includes plans for communicating results virtually throughout the college, city, and state, as well as to other HSIs through conferences and professional society meetings.This RAPID award is made by the Hispanic-serving Institutions Program in the Division of Human Resource Development, Directorate of Education and Human Resources. The HSI Program aims to enhance undergraduate STEM education 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.