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DOI: 10.1186/s12909-024-05292-7; PMCID: PMC10956253


BACKGROUND: The Students Training in Academia, Health, and Research (STAHR) Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) strives to help students from low-income families that have experienced educational challenges due to poverty and prepare them to enter, persist, and graduate from a health sciences degree program at UMKC. Students in the program participated in fuzzy cognitive mapping (FCM) sessions to ensure that all voices of the program were heard to improve program implementation, and student success, and contribute to an equitable educational environment.

METHODS: Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping sessions for the 2020-2021 cohort of students (n = 52) were conducted to assess the strengths and weaknesses in program implementation, especially through the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students' maps were coded by a team of researchers and then confirmed using confirmatory factor analysis.

RESULTS: Statistical analyses reveal that mentorship, workshops, and social support helped students to work toward their goal of obtaining a professional health sciences degree, while a lack of time, remote learning, and outside stressors inhibited their opportunities for success.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings from a multipronged analysis of mapping data demonstrate the value of this innovative approach to the field, especially when looking to incorporate student voices.

Journal Title

BMC medical education [electronic resource]





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Program Evaluation; Pandemics; Students; Mentors; Cognition


Dentistry education; Fuzzy cognitive mapping; Health sciences; Medicine education; Mentoring; Mixed-methods; Pharmacy education; Pipeline; Student retention


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Erratum in

Correction: Supporting underrepresented students in health sciences: a fuzzy cognitive mapping approach to program evaluation.

Chiang DF, Guerrero SA, Sexton EC, Gardner SS.BMC Med Educ. 2024 Apr 2;24(1):362. doi: 10.1186/s12909-024-05360-y.PMID: 38566078 Free PMC article. No abstract available.