Underrepresentation in the Sciences
E&ER has studied several programs to increase diversity in STEM. Many of these programs choose undergraduate research as their central strategy to increase the recruitment and retention of minorities into STEM. Many also offer academic and social support, mentoring, financial support, career preparation workshops, and training in communication and laboratory skills.
On This Page:
- Supporting Hispanics in Computing
- Increasing Diversity in the Biosciences through Research Experiences
- Comprehensive Undergraduate Research Programs to Increase Diversity in STEM
- Undergraduates with Disabilities in STEM
In collaboration with the ATLAS Assessment and Research Center at UCB, E&ER has conducted evaluation-with-research studies for CAHSI, an alliance of seven Hispanic-Serving Institutions that seek to recruit, retain, and advance Hispanics into computing careers through four interventions targeting specific stages in the higher education “pipeline”:
- CS-0: A three-unit course in introduction to computer programming and concepts designed to better prepare students for success in computer science
- Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL): Peer leaders provide academic and social support to students in computer science courses that serve as gatekeepers to further study of computer science.
- Affinity Research Groups: Research groups provide undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to learn, use, and integrate the knowledge and skills required for research with those required for cooperative work.
- Development Workshops: Graduate students and junior faculty participate in workshops that foster the knowledge and skills required for success in academic and industry careers.
Evaluation results demonstrate that CAHSI institutions have increased their course completion rates in gatekeeper courses and enhanced Hispanic students’ confidence and aspirations in computing.
Studies for CAHSI were supported by the National Science Foundation under award CNS-0540592 to the University of Texas at El Paso. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.
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The NIH/HHMI Scholars Program for Diversity in the Biosciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder targets ethnic minority and first-generation, low-income students and offers a multi-year research experience. E&ER has conducted an evaluation of the NIH Scholars program using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Findings demonstrate that NIH Scholars students gained valuable intellectual and professional knowledge and skills from their participation in research, and became more interested in graduate programs in the biosciences.
Thiry, H. & Laursen, S.L. (2009). Student outcomes from undergraduate research: An evaluation of three academic year and summer undergraduate research programs at the University of Colorado at Boulder, 2007-2008. (Report to the Biological Science Initiative and the NIH Scholars Program for Diversity in the Biosciences). Boulder, CO: University of Colorado at Boulder, Ethnography & Evaluation Research.
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E&ER conducted an evaluation of the Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (LA-STEM) Research Scholars Program at the Louisiana State University (LSU). The LA-STEM program seeks to promote student retention in STEM majors and encourage entry to Ph.D. programs, particularly for those from underrepresented groups. Both quantitative and qualitative data indicate that the program has met its objectives of recruiting diverse and talented students to LSU, retaining them in STEM majors, and encouraging their entry to advanced degree programs. Structured program elements worked effectively to integrate students academically and socially to campus life at LSU and promote their academic success.
Hunter, A.-B., Thiry, H., & Crane, R. (2009). Student outcomes from the LA-STEM Research Scholars Summer Bridge program. An evaluation of the LA-STEM Research Scholars program at the Louisiana State University, 2007-2008: Qualitative Results. Ethnography & Evaluation Research. Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Thiry, H., Hunter, A-B. (2008). Student outcomes from the Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (LA-STEM) Research Scholars program: Quantitative results of the Summer Bridge Survey. Ethnography & Evaluation Research, Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Thiry, H., Hunter, A-B. (2008). Student outcomes from the Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (LA-STEM) Research Scholars program: Quantitative results of the Faculty and Student Undergraduate Research Experience Survey . Ethnography & Evaluation Research. Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) is run by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, and aims to promote careers in atmospheric science research among students from underrepresented groups. SOARS engages students in an intensive summer research experience working closely with a mentor. Our research-with evaluation study was designed to investigate student outcomes and determine the importance of specific elements in supporting desired student outcomes. Types of student gains matched those identified by our four-college study. Multiple mentors, the establishment of strong peer collegiality, ongoing student professional development, engagement in research, and strong financial support are critical program components.
Melton, G., Pedersen-Gallegos, L., Donohue, R., with Hunter, A.-B. (2005). SOARS: A Research-with-Evaluation Study of a multi-year research and mentoring program for underrepresented students in science. Ethnography & Evaluation Research. Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Evaluation of the LA-STEM program was supported by the National Science Foundation under award MPS-0228717 to LSU. Evaluation of SOARS was supported by the National Science Foundation under award ATM-0401704, and by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
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People with disabilities are often acknowledged as the “largest minority” but are still significantly underrepresented in college STEM majors and careers. E&ER's disabilities study contributes to understanding the causes of this underrepresentation. We explored what experiences during college—and in their working, family, and social lives beyond academe—support or discourage students' entry to and persistence within STEM fields. In fact, students with disabilities are more likely to persist in STEM majors than some others. Yet they do encounter significant obstacles in completing a university STEM education, especially faculty attitudes about certain accommodations; aspects of the financial aid system; and challenges due to the disability itself.
Seymour, E. & Hunter, A.B. (1998). Talking About Disability: The Education and Work Experiences of Graduates and Undergraduates with Disabilities in Science, Mathematics and Engineering. Washington, DC: AAAS.
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