This NSF EAGER award addresses two of the National Academies’ fourteen grand challenges in engineering and aligns with the Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development report from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, and National Science Foundation. As an exploratory research project, the project seeks to establish initial connections (e.g., improvement of sleep quality and/or duration) to the outcome of interest (e.g., increase in number of underrepresented minority and women college students majoring in STEM fields, particularly noted "brilliance" fields of bio-/biomedical/neural engineering, or entering STEM careers. This project builds on existing educational research and theory by examining factors or conditions that mediate or moderate the relationship between learning outcomes and presents a unique intervention in underrepresented college student populations for increasing interest in bio-/biomedical/neural engineering careers to inform future practice, design, and development in increasing the number of underrepresented students majoring in STEM fields.
Extant research has shown that variable sleep schedules, going to bed thirsty, environmental noise, and worrying while falling asleep contribute to poor sleep quality. This corpse of research has also demonstrated that college students’ knowledge of sleep hygiene is related to sleep practices, which is closely associated with overall sleep quality. Participation in sleep education programs has been associated with significant improvements in children’s and young adult sleep and academic performance. Using a mixed method, experimental research design, this project tests the ability of a sleep intervention to increase non-STEM majors’ interest in STEM fields and their engagement in a STEM course based on sleep quality and/or duration. Further, this project will test the ability of a sleep intervention to increase interest in STEM fields/careers among African-Americans and women, who are current non-STEM majors. Finally, this project includes an educational plan, incorporating engineering into biology and behavioral neuroscience undergraduate research and education in an effort to significantly advance the interests and strengthen the academic attractiveness of underrepresented groups to bioengineering graduate programs and bioengineering workforce engagement.