Taking a Look at the Health Science and Technology Academy (HSTA): Student-researcher partnership increases survey sample size, hands-on STEM learning, and researcher-community connections
Dr. Ann Chester, Director of the Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) in West Virginia was looking for professional researchers interested in working with HSTA's high school-aged participants through community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects. Dr. Alicia Zbehlik, with the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice in New Hampshire, needed to further her research in knee osteoarthritis to support a pilot intervention in her target population. The two met, saw potential benefits to both organizations in forming a partnership, and agreed to undertake a one-year project. The resulting effort led to a greater than tenfold increase in the amount of quality data Dr. Zbehlik was able to collect for her research—from 100 surveys to 1,129. It also gave 34 HSTA students professional experience gathering, recording, analyzing, translating, and presenting data. This partnership is a prime example of the way in which health and other STEM practitioners in the research arena can access rural, urban, and other hard-to-reach populations through HSTA's CBPR infrastructure. It also serves as an illustration of the power the HSTA mechanism offers to communities that want to open the STEM pipeline to underrepresented youth while introducing real-world research pathways to these students in their formative years.
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