Project L/EARN begins with an intensive ten-week summer internship designed for students completing their freshman, sophomore, or junior year, who are from socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural groups that have been traditionally under-represented in graduate education. During the summer students acquire research experience and an understanding of the methods and goals involved in health services research.
An instructor provides daily lectures about statistics, research methods, and research writing, which are reinforced by the teaching assistant with hands-on workshops in a computer lab. Material is reinforced through in-class exercises, reading assignments, problem sets, and other homework assignments. Interns also participate in a series of writing workshops that teach how to plan, write, and revise the sections of a research paper. Interns should expect nightly homework as well as weekend work drafting and revising their research paper.
Major course assignments
The major assignment of the course is to develop a research question, perform a literature search/review about their topic, develop and implement an appropriate analysis plan, and write a research paper, complete with methods, tables, graphics and references. By the end of the summer, each intern will complete a full-fledged 30 page research paper based on their research project. As part of their professional development, each intern presents their research to an audience of Institute researchers and professional research staff both in a poster session and in a conference presentation during the last week of the summer training program.
The faculty mentor plays a key advisory role in the development and refinement of the intern's project. They meet weekly with their intern and provide detailed feedback on every aspect of the research project, final paper, and final presentation. This level of interaction allows the mentor to participate fully in the intern's training and builds confidence in the intern's ability to contribute as a member of a research team. Interns are matched individually with a mentor based on their research interests.
Faculty guest lectures
One of the major strengths of Project L/EARN is that it draws on the distinguished faculty of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research to serve as guest speakers and mentors. Institute faculty includes leaders in the fields of medical sociology, health psychology, health economics, and medical history. This impressive group of faculty provides a rich collection of resources across the social sciences. Guest speakers provide perspective on ethical issues in health research, the research process, and current topics in health research. These lectures are an opportunity for interns to participate in graduate level seminar.
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