Broadening Participation Research Grant: Fostering Retention in STEM Disciplines at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
The Tuskegee University HBCU-UP Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education project is entitled Fostering Retention in STEM Disciplines at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The proposed study will examine the interplay between psychosocial and academic structural factors that affect retention of minority students at HBCUs. The objectives are to (1) determine the most prominent psycho-social factors that affect student retention in STEM programs; (2) identify the structural factors that lead to the successful retention of students in STEM programs; (3) gain insight into the issues that influence the effectiveness of those structural factors; and (4) develop a manual describing suggestions for best practices.
The proposal frames the study by presenting a synthesis of the literature in a model of psychological and sociological influences on STEM retention at HBCUs. The PIs intend to build upon this model to describe what HBCUs are doing to foster student success. The study will employ a mixed methods approach to collect and analyze data from students, faculty, administrators and other non-faculty personnel, and successful graduates of STEM programs from HBCUs in order to investigate three research questions:
1. What psycho-social factors (emotional, motivational, and social factors) appear to affect the retention of students in STEM disciplines at HBCUs? In what ways are these effects manifested?
2. How do structural factors (tangible resources, availability of mentors, supportive programs, etc.) influence retention rates in STEM disciplines at HBCUs?
3. What influence, if any, do psycho-social factors (emotional factors, motivational factors, social factors) appear to have on the effectiveness of structural factors which are intended to support student retention in STEM disciplines?
The study will be guided by a multidisciplinary team of faculty specializing in education, social and behavioral sciences, and mathematics, and it will be conducted in collaboration with other HBCUs. Through the use of a community-based participatory research methodology, the PIs expect to produce results that will have practical benefits to the larger community. More specifically, the study may provide guidance that will translate into a set of best practices for HBCUs and non-HBCUs seeking to increase minority student retention in STEM, particularly at the freshman and sophomore levels.