Here’s How to Increase Diversity in STEM at the College Level and Beyond

Here’s How to Increase Diversity in STEM at the College Level and Beyond | The Conversation


The Meyerhoff Scholars program has been called the “gold standard” for providing a path into STEM research for African Americans, Hispanics, and economically disadvantaged white students who are underrepresented in the field. It has also been credited with changing the culture of the campus at UMBC.

Read more

Applications Open: Aspire Alliance IAspire Leadership Academy

The NSF-funded Aspire Alliance’s Institutional Change Initiative (IChange) is accepting applications for the inaugural IAspire Leadership Academy. The Academy elevates the preparedness of academic leaders from underrepresented groups so they can aspire to and succeed in more senior leadership roles. This program offers fellowships to individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups currently in formal or non-formal leadership roles in STEM higher education.


IAspire Leadership Fellows will gain critical leadership skills across numerous competencies. They will have opportunities to learn how to lead more effectively in increasingly complex environments and build confidence to influence institutional transformation either in their current position or as they rise to other positions of leadership. The program fees (valued at $9,000) for this inaugural cohort are covered by the NSF INCLUDES Grant.


Additional Information about the Academy and the application process can be found on the Aspire Alliance IAspire Leadership Academy siteApplications are due June 3, 2019.

Promise programs do better with support services

Promise programs do better with support services

Promise programs are more effective when community college students are given targeted support services, according to two new studies by MDRC.

One study evaluated the Detroit Promise Path program, which provides extra support to students participating in the Detroit Promise, and the other one reviewed results from the MDRC’s College Promise Success Initiative.

The Detroit Promise, one of more than 300 promise programs nationwide, was launched by the Detroit Regional Chamber in 2013 to provide college scholarships to high school graduates for up to three years. It’s a last-dollar scholarship, meaning it covers the difference between a student’s financial aid award and the cost of tuition.

While the program resulted in an increase in students who enrolled in college, there was a concern that large numbers of Detroit Promise recipients were dropping out before their second year. To improve college retention, the chamber partnered with MDRC to create the Detroit Promise Path, which adds student services and benefits to the program, including:

  • campus coaching and a requirement that students meet with a coach twice a month
  • $50 a month to cover extra expenses, such as bus passes or books, for students who meet with coaches
  • encouragement for students to enroll in summer courses
  • a management information system to track student participation

Encouraging results

The MDRC study compared two randomly selected groups: students who participated in the Detroit Promise Path and students who received Detroit Promise scholarships but didn’t receive the extra supports in the Path program.

The study covered students who attended five Detroit-area community colleges: Henry FordMacombOaklandSchoolcraft and Wayne County Community College District.

Early results from that study suggest that “well-designed, well-implemented student support services in College Promise programs can enhance students’ experience, improve their semester-to-semester persistence in college and potentially increase the percentage of them who graduate,” MDRC found. For example, the program’s estimated impact on full-time enrollment for the full study sample increases from about 6 percentage points in the first semester to about 10 percentage points in the second semester.

This shows “there is a sizable group of students who currently enroll part-time but would enroll full-time with direction and support,” the report states.

In another example, students in the Detroit Promise Path earned an average 1.7 more credits than students in the control group, a 25 percent increase that is statistically significant.


Read More

A Mind at Work: Maximizing the Relationship Between Mindset and Student Success

With survey findings collected from over 80,000 community college students at 159 institutions, the report confirms that students who have more productive academic mindsets are more engaged and have higher GPAs.

Watch a webinar on A Mind at Work facilitated by Center Executive Director Evelyn Waiwaiole and Rachel Beattie, the director of productive persistence for Carnegie Math Pathways at WestEd.


Report cover image for A Mind at Work: Maximizing the Relationship Between Mindset and Student Success
College in Action: Profiles from the Report
Questions for Consideration
Tools and Resources
Press Release and Select Media Coverage

Watch related videos.

Read More

See Report Here

Looks matter when it comes to success in STEM, study shows

New research finds that racial stereotypes around appearance impact student achievement

Demand for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees is on the rise. However, there are many barriers to gaining one.

One may be the appearance of the student seeking the degree, according to a new Rice University study. The extent to which students look racially stereotypical – that is, more or less like members of their racial group – influences how likely they are to persist in a STEM-related field.

Mikki Hebl. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.

Mikki Hebl. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.

“The Face of STEM: Racial Phenotypic Stereotypicality Predicts STEM Persistence by – and Ability Attributions About – Students of Color” appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Researchers Mikki Hebl, the Martha and Henry Malcom Lovett Chair of Psychological Sciences and Professor of Management at Rice; Melissa Williams, Goizueta Foundation Term Associate Professor of Organization and Management at Emory University; and Julia George-Jones, Ph.D. candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, were not interested in looking at differences across races. Rather, they were interested in focusing on differences within races.

Examining five years’ worth of students who entered college intending to pursue a STEM degree, the researchers measured their persistence at remaining in a STEM discipline. They coded photos on the extent to which students exhibited physical features considered stereotypical for their races (white, black or Asian).

Using logistic regression analysis, the researchers found that Asian students who looked more (versus less) racially stereotypical were significantly more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree in STEM. However, black students who looked more racially stereotypical were less likely to complete a STEM degree. There were no meaningful differences reported for white students.

“I think we live in a presumed meritocracy where people believe what you get on tests and how you do in the classroom is what matters,” Hebl said. “Our research says that your looks do matter and can impact your likelihood to depart or remain in a STEM field. And that is pretty shocking.”

In an attempt to identify the source of such biases, the researchers invited academic advisers from 50 top U.S. universities to participate in a follow-up study. Advisers were shown two photos (one higher and one lower in stereotypicality but always of the same race and gender) and told to recommend which of the two should take a STEM-related class.

The responses were consistent with the findings in the first part of the study. Advisers were considerably more likely to choose Asian male and female students who looked more stereotypically Asian to take the STEM class. Advisers were less likely to choose those who looked more stereotypically black among women.

The researchers found one inconsistency with the earlier findings: The pattern that academic advisers showed for black women did not extend to black men. That is, the advisers were more likely to say that a black male with a more (versus less) stereotypical appearance would be more successful in STEM. Hebl thinks a possible cause that this finding emerges because of heightened sensitivities to black men in the current political culture and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. She suggested very stereotypical black men may have led participants to double check their behavior.

“We have some evidence that the extent to which people tried to suppress their motivation to be prejudiced predicted their responses to black men, but only to them,” Hebl said.

When the researchers controlled for the motivation to control prejudice, indeed they found that the pattern for black men resembled the pattern for black women – that is, the less-stereotypical face led to perceptions of greater STEM ability.


Read More