Broadening Participation in STEM: Volume 22

Cover of Broadening Participation in STEM

Effective Methods, Practices, and Programs

Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xx
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Part I

Abstract

Louisiana State University (LSU)’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) is an award-winning office devoted to developing effective, educational approaches that incorporate guidance and exploration, increase students’ academic standing, and support measures to improve the institution’s diversity, predominantly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments. Through the incorporation of three main factors, Mentoring, Education, and Research, OSI has developed a holistic development model that offers students strategies to overcome those factors that affect their persistence in STEM. OSI houses several programs with a diverse population of students ranging from the high school to doctoral levels. Although varied in student population, these programs unite under the holistic development model to provide support and opportunities to students at each critical educational juncture. OSI’s holistic approach has successfully supported over 135 high school, 560 undergraduate, and 100 graduate students. Of the 560 undergraduate students served, 51% were underrepresented minorities and 55% were women. The undergraduate initiatives have garnered 445 bachelor’s degrees, with 395 degrees from STEM disciplines, and an impressive overall graduation rate ranging from 64% to 84%. Through all of the remarkable work performed in OSI, the greatest accomplishment has been the capacity to offer students from mixed backgrounds tools and strategies to thrive at any point in their academic career.

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The focus of this chapter is to describe the methods and results of ASCEND, an innovative program that empowers undergraduate students to lead research projects. ASCEND, which stands for “A Student-Centered Entrepreneurship Development Training Model to Increase Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce,” is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is being implemented at Morgan State University, a historically black university in Baltimore, Maryland. The results are thus far very promising and show that placing undergraduate students in leading research positions and surrounding them with like-minded peers enhances their sense of science identity, leadership, peer support, and research capabilities. It is hoped that students who participate in ASCEND will pursue graduate training and become future successful biomedical researchers.

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This chapter highlights the creation of a STEM Center of Excellence for Active Learning (SCEAL) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. The overarching goal of the STEM Center is to transform pedagogy and institutional teaching and learning in order to significantly increase the production of high-achieving students who will pursue careers and increase diversity in the STEM workforce. Some of the STEM Center’s efforts to reach its goals included supporting active learning classroom and course redesign efforts along with providing professional development workshops and opportunities to garner funding to cultivate student success projects through the development of an Innovation Ventures Fund. Outcomes from this Center have led to several publications and external grant funding awards to continue implementation, assessment, and refinement of active learning innovations and interventions for STEM student success for years to come.

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Abstract

Strengthening the nation’s technological workforce, competing and expanding its relevance in the global economy, and maintaining personal as well as homeland security will be highly dependent on the quantity, quality, and diversity of the next generations of scientists, engineers, technologists, and mathematicians. Production of a diverse generation of human resources with relevant, competitive skills is critical. However, so too is the need to raise an enlightened citizenry with cross-cultural experience and cultural awareness competency, with a broad worldview and global perspectives. These requirements are critical to understanding the challenges and opportunities of scholarly activity in a pluralistic global environment and positioning ourselves to capitalize upon them. Scholars with cross-cultural experience and competency are empowered to adapt and work collaboratively, nationally and globally, with scholars of different races, geopolitical, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. Development of effective strategies to transform science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments for inclusion and to broaden the participation in STEM across cultures, socioeconomic standing, race, and gender in higher education has been a dominant topic of pedagogical interest of national priority in the last several decades. However, success in these endeavors is achievable only through systemic change and a cultural shift to address the underlying root causes of socioeconomic disparity, gender, and racial disparities and a paucity of cultural awareness among all educational stakeholders. STEM departments can only be truly transformed for inclusion through the development of sensitive, creative, and student-engaging curricula and targeted recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in STEM. Formation of well-coordinated alliances spanning educational sectors, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and community engagement and outreach are also critical to promoting inclusive and broad participation in STEM education.

The first section of the chapter gives an introduction to various challenges, obstacles, and hindrances that prevent a successful transformation of K–12 science education as well as STEM departments in higher education for inclusion. The second section discusses historical perspectives of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS) – the institutional profile, missions, and visions of UAFS as a regional university. Policies and strategies for addressing the socioeconomic disparity, faculty gender, and racial disparities and cultural competency awareness at UAFS are also highlighted in this section. Other approaches including targeted efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented minority students, provision of financial assistance for students from low-income families, and a creative “Math-up” curriculum innovation to promote inclusive and broad participation in STEM at UAFS are highlighted in the latter section of the chapter. Formation of alliances between UAFS, local K–12 school districts, and governmental and non-governmental agencies to promote broad participation in STEM at UAFS are discussed. The last section of the chapter provides recommendations for adaptation and sustainability of strategies and efforts aimed at transforming national STEM departments for inclusion.

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Abstract

The Nanoscience Project at Hampton University (NanoHU) responds to the international call for more workers in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) who are nano-savvy and prepared for engagement in the fourth industrial revolution. The project’s initial intent to answer statewide and national initiatives was congruent with Hampton University’s (HU) desire for increased diversification of research interests across HU and enhanced the preparation of its students for doctoral degrees. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the five-year project (2012–2017) purposed to develop and systematically implement an integrated, multidisciplinary STEM research and education program in nanoscience at HU. Evidence of NanoHU’s success is demonstrated in the following accomplishments at the University: (1) a new Nanoscience Minor, (2) a new “Introduction to Nanoscience” course that has had a total enrollment of 82 students from STEM and non-STEM fields, (3) the NanoHU Scholars Program that has prepared 23 Scholars for entry into graduate programs and 12 NanoHU Fellows for similar pursuits, (4) a Faculty Development Program that has supported a total of 20 STEM and non-STEM faculty members, (5) a NanoHU Seminar Series that has informed the HU community about the science, business, legal, and ethical topics pertaining to nanoscience and nanotechnology, and (6) a viable outreach program that has prepared high school students (NanoHU Pioneers) for successful matriculation as STEM majors at the college level and stimulated STEM interest in the surrounding community. It is worth emphasizing that execution of the project also resulted in engagement between STEM and non-STEM constituents of the University, establishing a platform for a formal science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) institutional initiative. Efforts to communicate the importance of nanoscience to the HU community through seminars resulted in an infusion of nanoscience modules in STEM and non-STEM courses including courses in English, Journalism, Ethics, and other pre-law courses. Although NanoHU is specific to the needs of HU, its collaborative construct promises to be an innovative model for STEM and STEAM programs at other institutions with a similar construct.

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Xavier University of Louisiana has a national reputation for producing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates who go on to obtain MD and PhD degrees. According to a 2013 National Science Foundation report, Xavier is ranked first in producing African American graduates who go on to receive life sciences PhD degrees, fifth in the nation in producing African American graduates who go on to receive science and engineering PhD degrees, and seventh in producing African American graduates who go on to receive physical sciences PhD degrees. Xavier is currently third among the nation’s colleges and universities in the number of African American graduates enrolled in medical school, according to data compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges, and ranked first in the number of African American alumni who successfully complete their medical degrees. The success of Xavier’s graduates is due to a combination of university-based student support initiatives and externally funded programs, in particular, the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD), Maximizing Access to Biomedical Research Careers (MARC) U*STAR, and Research Initiative in Scientific Enhancement (RISE) programs. These three programs, funded by the Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD) Division at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), offer select trainees undergraduate research opportunities, support mechanisms, and a variety of activities designed to improve their potential for success in graduate school. The BUILD, MARC U*STAR, and RISE programs work closely together and with the University to leverage the resources provided by each in order to provide the best experience possible for their students with a minimum of redundancy of effort. This chapter focuses on the program components and how the programs work together.

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Part II

Abstract

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.

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Findings within the last decade reveal a core set of activities that have been correlated to student success metrics such as persistence, retention, and graduation (Kuh, 2008). These research-based activities are called high-impact practices (HIPs). Students who have participated in HIPs have shown gains in retention, in persistence, intellectually and in an overall positive college experience. This chapter provides an overview of 10 HIPs and their importance and benefits to underserved students, that is, first-generation college students, low-income college students, and underrepresented students of color such as African American, Latino/a, and Native American. Findings within the chapter also recognize how HIPs can be extremely beneficial for historically Black colleges and universities to build capacity and to ensure student success, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

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Abstract

The Center for Academic Success (CAS) at Louisiana State University (LSU), certified as a Center of Excellence by the National College Learning Center Association, has utilized Supplemental Instruction© (SI) for the past 20 years to provide student support for historically difficult courses – those courses with D, F, or withdrawal rates of greater than 30%. In this model, peers called “SI leaders” facilitate study sessions outside of class time to help the enrolled students develop effective learning strategies and better understand and master course concepts. SI relies upon collaboration with faculty and is supported by cognitivism and social constructivism learning theories.

Benefits of the successful model include supporting students to become self-directed independent learners, reducing the stigma associated with using academic support and reducing the demands for tutoring. Outcomes observed at LSU include positive correlations between the course-passing rates and six-year graduation rates of women, underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students who participated in SI compared to the peers who participate less frequently and those who do not participate.

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Supplemental Instructions (SIs) were introduced into the San Francisco State University College of Science & Engineering curriculum in 1999. The goal was to improve student performance and retention and to decrease the time to degree in STEM majors. While for the most part we followed the structure and activities as developed by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, we discovered several variations that significantly improved our outcomes. First and foremost, we created SI courses that require attendance, which results in higher students’ performance outcomes compared to drop-in options. Second, at SFSU the SI courses are led by pairs of undergraduate student facilitators (who are all STEM majors) trained in active learning strategies. Each year, more than half of our facilitators return to teach for another year. Thus, each section has a returning “experienced” facilitator who works with a new “novice” facilitator. Third, the SI courses were created with a distinct course prefix and listed as courses that generate revenue and make data access available for comparison studies. Results are presented that compare SI impact by gender and with groups underrepresented in STEM disciplines.

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Before 2011, student performance rates in college algebra and trigonometry at North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&TSU) were consistently below 50%. To remedy this situation, the Mathematics Department implemented the math emporium model (MEM) instructional method. The underlying principle behind MEM is that students learn math by doing math (Twigg, 2011). The MEM requires students to work on math problems and spend more time on material that they do not understand while allowing them to spend less time on material that they do understand. Also, students receive immediate feedback on problems from teaching assistants as they work through their online assignments. After implementing the MEM, student pass rates improved for both the MEM and traditional sections. Data to date also show that female students outperform male students in both instructional models. Further study is needed to determine the factors that have caused improvement in pass rates in addition to the implementation of the MEM. Some important lessons learned by the NCA&TSU math faculty from implementing the MEM into the college algebra and trigonometry courses are that successful implementation requires a long-term commitment, internal and external collaborations, and the collective ability to determine what works for the local setting.

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Process-oriented guided-inquiry learning (POGIL) is a student-centered instructional strategy to actively engage students in the classroom in promoting content mastery, critical thinking, and process skills. The students organize into groups of three to four, and each group member works collaboratively to construct their understanding as they proceed through the embedded learning cycle in the POGIL activity. Each group member has a specific role and actively engages in the learning process. The roles rotate periodically, and each student has the opportunity to develop essential process skills, such as leadership skills, oral and written communication skills, team-building skills, and information-processing skills. The student groups are self-managed, and the instructor serves as a facilitator of student learning. A POGIL activity typically contains a model that the students deconstruct using a series of guided, exploratory questions. The students develop concepts (concept invention) as the group members reach a valid, consensus conclusion. The students apply their concepts to new problems completing the learning cycle. The authors implemented POGIL instruction in several chemistry courses at Jackson State University and Tuskegee University. They share their initial findings, experiences, and insights gained using a new instructional strategy.

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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.

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The transition from a traditional lecture style method of teaching to the flipped classroom in sophomore-level Organic Chemistry I and II courses at an Historically Black University (HBCU) is described. The process of implementation was explained and the students’ performance was analyzed. The flipped teaching method made a much bigger positive impact to Organic I than Organic II Chemistry course. A higher percentage of A, B or better, and C or better were observed for Organic I Chemistry course. The DFW rate was also significantly lower for the Organic I Chemistry flipped classroom. However, Organic II results were very similar between the students from both teaching methods.

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Index

Pages 341-355
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Cover of Broadening Participation in STEM
DOI
10.1108/S1479-3644201922
Publication date
2019-02-28
Book series
Diversity in Higher Education
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78756-908-9
Book series ISSN
1479-3644