GP EXTRA: MINORITIES STRIVING AND PURSUING HIGHER DEGREES OF SUCCESS in GEO REU (MS PHD?S-GEO REU) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Numerous reports from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National Research Council (NRC) have documented the need to increase diversity within STEM disciplines as being vital to our nation's innovation agenda, economic prosperity, and global competitiveness. Although slow progress in broadening participation in some STEM disciplines is being made, the geosciences community still has a long way to go before the number of African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and persons with disabilities are earning degrees and pursuing careers in the geosciences at a level that is consistent with their demographic representation. Both recruitment of new underrepresented minority (URM) students into STEM majors and retention of those students who are already in the education and career pipeline are needed to make progress on this goal.
The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP) are implementing a 3-year program to provide virtual and on-site professional development, networking, community building and mentoring activities to 45 URM students who have participated in geoscience-related Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) Site programs. The goals of this program are focused on retention of students who have already demonstrated an interest in the geosciences, but who are at risk of leaving the field because of isolation, lack of role models, and lack of mentors who can help guide them to the next stages of their professional success. The "Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in GEO REU" (MS PHD'S-GEO REU) program builds on a successful pilot effort, leveraging previous NSF investments to build model programs for recruitment, retention, and leadership development of traditionally underrepresented students in STEM disciplines. The program uses evidence-based mentoring concepts that are rooted in the theories of situated learning and authentic learning. Career exposure and professional socialization activities are embedded. A rigorous recruitment, application, and selection process is being used to identify three cohorts (15 each) of students from a national pool of REU Site participants. The program involves two main phases: 1) on-site mentored professional development in conjunction with the annual Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union; and 2) virtual and face-to-face mentoring and networking at discipline-specific conferences, supported by on-going virtual professional development webinars. Formative and summative evaluation components are included in the project design. Impact evaluation studies will investigate whether students participating in the MS PHD'S-GEO REU program show greater persistence in STEM and the geosciences, as well as more informed career decision-making, compared with other REU students who are not selected for the program.