As the US transitions to a majority–minority population, the underrepresentation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce must be resolved to ensure that our nation maintains its competitiveness and global economic advantage. The persistent problem of retaining underrepresented minority (URM) students in STEM continues to be a national priority after several decades of attention. The role of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in addressing this challenge cannot be overstated, given their history in producing African American STEM graduates. As the largest HBCU in the country, North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T) serves a combined undergraduate and graduate population of 11,877 students, 78% of which self-identify as African American. To overcome the multiple challenges that impede retention and persistence to degree completion in biology, the Department of Biology at NC A&T has adopted a major cultural shift in its advising strategy. The new approach encompasses a Life Mapping and Advising Model that builds faculty–student relationships and engages both parties effectively in the process. The model includes six important pillars to drive student success: (1) dedicated advising space, the Life Mapping and Advising Center (LMAC), (2) effective advisors, (3) integrated peer mentor and peer tutoring programs, (4) an intrusive advising strategy, (5) integration with first-year student success courses, and (6) life coaching. Although the program is in its infancy, based on the first-year assessment data, we have observed many promising trends that, together, point toward successful retention and persistence of our students in the major.
Smith, M., White, A., Bernot, K., Petty, C., White, C., Byfield, G., Newman, R., Coomans, R. and Rorie, C. (2019), "A Cultural Shift: A Transformative Approach to Advising STEM Students at an HBCU", Broadening Participation in STEM (Diversity in Higher Education, Vol. 22), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 291-316. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-364420190000022013Download as .RIS
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