The UNL McNair Scholars Program is part of the national McNair Scholars Program through the U.S. Department of Education. The program aims to increase the number of underrepresented students in doctoral programs by facilitating opportunities for selected undergraduate students to define goals, engage in research, and develop the skills and relationships necessary to prepare them for success at the doctoral level while receiving a stipend. As a part of the program, Scholars select a faculty mentor who provides them with guidance throughout their undergraduate research experience.
MERC provided evaluation support for this program in conjunction with the Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR). The evaluation included the collection of faculty mentor surveys, as well as the collection of pretests, posttests, and follow-up surveys from both the McNair Scholars and a comparison group of UNL undergraduates in order to both track change over time and assess change between the two groups. Self-reported skill sets and confidence levels increased significantly after completing one year of the program. Moreover, Scholars reported large gains and benefits as a result of their time in the program, and overall felt that the program has been a valuable experience for them. There was general agreement among mentors that their mentees met their expectations and put forth research-related effort.