STEM Central

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STEPping into the Future White Paper Thread: High Impact Practices and Under Represented Minorities

STEPping into the Future White Paper Thread: High Impact Practices and Under Represented Minorities

Submitted by Pat Marsteller, Emory University

STEP programs have applied evidence based, high impact practices in pedagogy and student support that benefit all students, but have particularly strong impact on underrepresented students, first generation students and women. Numerous studies have identified factors that contribute to STEM undergraduate retention and persistence. Although academic factors such as performance in gatekeeper courses (Crisp et al 2009) are important, targeted support programs (Good, 2000) and bridge programs ( Johnson, 2013; Kuh et al 2006 and 2007), social support, self-efficacy, identity as a scientist, academic adjustment, early engagement in research, close faculty mentorship, and resilience are also major factors (D’Augelli and Hirschberger, 1993, Carter et a; 2008, Chang et al 2011, Seymour 2002) . High Impact Practices (Kuh et al 2006 and 2007) particularly improve underrepresented student retention, persistence, and entry into advanced degrees. Graham et al (2013) introduce a persistence framework model that focuses on developing student agency, confidence, and self-efficacy through learning and professional identification. These strategies increased both confidence and motivation and thus increased academic success. Key elements of the framework include early research, active learning strategies in the classroom, and participation in learning communities to increase self-identification as a scientist and academic success. Students who engage in research in the first two years are significantly more likely to persist in STEM majors and to advance to doctoral programs.

STEP projects provided support for the development of an effective inclusive and welcoming environment for students includes programs such as:

• Bridge programs: Emory University GLUE (Getting a Leg Up at Emory) has in its first three years served over 400 students in either an on line or residential bridge program. Glue students are nearly 100% retained in STEM and many enter research program during the first two years.

• Living-Learning Communities: St. Edwards Community for Achievement in Science, Academics and Research which attracted other funds to expand the program Living Learning communites have also proved effective at Western Michigan. Learning villages for across institution achieved increases in retention and transfer rates in an interesting STEP project between Iowa State and Des Moines Community College.

• Faculty and other advisor training programs and assessment Faculty learning communities at Boise State (8-12 per year) studied teaching and learning and applied strategies to classroom transformation. Active learning pedagogies (e.g., guided inquiry, problem-based learning, project-based learning) especially in introductory STEM classes were effective elements of STEP projects at San Jose State and Emory. Supplemental instruction in introductory courses in math and computer sciences at San Jose State and active learning in biology, chemistry and physics at Emory advanced student success and persistence.

• Early research experiences (within the first two years of enrollment), either as part of coursework or in a special research program) Alma College introduced undergraduate research and first year seminars, increasing their undergraduate STEM interest in research by 56%! This route that has proven effectivenss for many institutions including Emory, which expanded its long term summer and academic year research programs to fist and second year students in part with STEP funding. Tarleton State and Temple College instituted early research and paid special emphasis to transfer students. Over 150 students participated in summer research. Northern Kentucky achieved a 50% increase in BS degrees in part due to early research experiences for those at risk of leaving STEM fields.

References

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