The racial and ethnic representation of individuals in the workforce is not comparable to that in the general population. In 2010, African Americans constituted 12.6% of the US population. However, African Americans represented less than 5% of PhD recipients in 2010; African American women comprised less than 1% of the degrees awarded in that same year. These disappointing statistics have sparked conversations regarding the retention of underrepresented groups with a focus on what helps to ensure these individuals will transition through the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline. This chapter provides insight into the elements of the Spelman College learning environment that empower women of African descent to become agents of their success while facilitating their movement through the STEM pipeline. The chapter focuses on interventions and resources developed in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department to foster student-centered learning. Described herein are cocurricular strategies and course-based interventions are used synergistically to enhance student outcomes. The approach to curricular innovation is framed by theories related to community of inquiry (CoI), metacognition, agency, and self-regulated learning. Strategic institutional investments have underpinned these efforts. In addition to providing a snapshot of student outcomes, the authors discuss lessons learned along with the realities of engaging in this type of intellectual work to elucidate the feasibility of adopting similar strategies at other institutions.
Lecture activities reported herein have been funded in part by grants from the NSF: the HBCU-UP Targeted Infusion Project Award No. HRD-1332575 and the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources Award No. 1626002. Funding was also provided, in part, by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Award No. 52007559. Lab activities have been funded, in part, through the Associated Colleges of the South Grant Program and the Proctor & Gamble Higher Education Grant Program. Corporate funding was also provided by Corning, Incorporated. Additional funding and support were provided by Spelman College through the Teaching Research and Resources Center and the Gordon-Zeto Center for Global Education.
The authors are appreciative to Dr Myra Burnett, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, for reviewing the initial chapter draft. The authors would also like to thank Lakesha Stevenson (Internal Evaluation Services), Dimeji Togunde and Rokhaya Falls (Gordon-Zeto Center for Global Education), John Brown (Registrar), and James Sanders (Office of Institutional Effectiveness) for providing a portion of the data reported here.
The department is grateful to the anonymous donor whose generous support produced the endowment for Chemistry and Biochemistry Scholars.
Winfield, L., Hibbard, L., Jackson, K. and Johnson, S. (2019), "Cultivating Agency through the Chemistry and Biochemistry Curriculum at Spelman College", Broadening Participation in STEM (Diversity in Higher Education, Vol. 22), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 153-181. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-364420190000022007Download as .RIS
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