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.
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”:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The diversity of doctoral graduates in STEM lags behind that in undergraduate degree programs. We analyzed historical data on PhDs earned in chemistry to identify trends in degrees awarded by the top 50 PhD programs in chemistry and to search for causes.
- Laursen, S. L., & Weston, T. J. (2018). Getting to Lake Wobegon: The role of departments in diversifying Ph.D. chemistry graduates. In R. Hernandez, D. Stallings, S. K. Iyer, eds. National Diversity Equity Workshops in Chemical Sciences (2011−2017), ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1277, Ch. 8, pp 169–182. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society. DOI: 10.1021/bk-2018-1277.ch008
Laursen, S., & Weston, T. J. (2014). Trends in Ph.D. productivity and diversity in top-50 chemistry departments. Journal of Chemical Education. DOI 10.1021/ed4006997. [Open access via ACS Editors' Choice]
- Recorded webinar about this work: Productivity & Diversity in Top Chemistry Programs: Effort Matters hosted by AWIS July 2014
- Loshbaugh, H. L., Laursen, S. L., & Thiry, H. (2011). Reaction to changing times: Trends and tensions in U.S. chemistry graduate education. Journal of Chemical Education, 88, 708-715. DOI 10.1021/ed1008574