skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on June 1, 2023

Title: Course-based Adaptations of an Ecological Belonging Intervention to Transform Engineering Representation at Scale
This project uses an ecological belonging intervention approach [1] that requires one-class or one- recitation/discussion session to implement and has been shown to erase long-standing equity gaps in achievement in introductory STEM courses. However, given the wide social and cultural heterogeneity across US university contexts (e.g., differences in regional demographics, history, political climates), it is an open question if and how the intervention may scale. This project brings together an interdisciplinary team across three strategically selected universities to design, test, and iteratively improve an approach to systematically identify which first and second year courses would most benefit from the intervention, reveal student concerns that may be specific to that course, adapt the intervention to address those concerns, and evaluate the universality versus specificity of the intervention across university contexts. This systematic approach also includes persuasion and training processes for onboarding the instructors of the targeted courses. The instructor onboarding and the intervention adaptation processes are guided by a theory-of-action that is the backbone of the project’s research activities and iterative process improvement. A synergistic mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods is used throughout the study. In this paper, we describe our theoretical framing of this ecological belonging intervention and the current more » efforts of the project in developing customized student stories for the intervention. We have conducted focus groups across each of the partner institutions (University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University, and University of California Irvine). We describe the process of developing these contextually relevant stories and the lessons learned about how this ecological belonging intervention can be translated across institutional contexts and for various STEM majors and systemically minoritized populations. The results of this work can provide actionable strategies for reducing equity gaps in students' degree attainment and achievement in engineering. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2111114
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10353246
Journal Name:
ASEE Annual Conference proceedings
ISSN:
1524-4644
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. This paper presents the initial work of a recently funded NSF project on ethical and responsible research and practices in science and engineering. The objective of this research is to improve instructor training, interventions, and student outcomes in high schools and universities to improve awareness and commitment to ethical practices in STEM coursework. The project will generate a robust snapshot of the ethical knowledge, reasoning skills, attitudes, and practices of several thousand undergraduate engineering students. This snapshot will inform the development of a three-week enrichment opportunity for high school STEM teachers. Working with university faculty and graduate students, these teachers will develop learning modules on ethical issues related to their courses. The snapshot will also identify gaps and guide the creation of targeted interventions that will be used in second-, third-, and fourth-year engineering courses. This data-driven project uses a mixed-methods approach to generate a better understanding of the impact of ethics interventions at various points in a student's academic development by developing and using a set of instruments to measure cognitive, affective, and behavioral aspects of ethical competency and self-efficacy. To that end, a second snapshot will be taken by testing and surveying engineering students in their capstone coursesmore »to provide a broad overview of the competence and self-confidence that engineering students have in dealing with ethical STEM issues, to determine the efficacy of various interventions, and to improve future interventions. Utilizing repeated measures and possessing a longitudinal dimension, the project will generate extensive data about the development of ethical competency, ethical self-efficacy, and their relationship. The interventions designed for secondary and tertiary classrooms will build on best practices for micro-insertion of ethics content that are practical and help students understand how technical competencies fit within broader social, economic, and environmental contexts. The capstone snapshot will also provide some measure of the impact of other experiences (e.g., undergraduate research, internships, service learning) and courses (e.g., humanities, social science, and business courses) on development of ethical practices. This report marks the start of a five-year project; therefore, the results presented in this paper represent findings from the engineering ethics literature and baseline results from survey of engineering freshmen at Texas A&M University. The findings from the survey are being utilized in developing intervention modules that will be integrated in upper-level engineering courses and training materials for high school teachers.« less
  2. Despite national efforts in increasing representation of minority students in STEM disciplines, disparities prevail. Hispanics account for 17.4% of the U.S. population, and nearly 20% of the youth population (21 years and below) in the U.S. is Hispanic, yet they account for just 7% of the STEM workforce. To tackle these challenges, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted a 5-year project – ASSURE-US, that seeks to improve undergraduate education in Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) at California State University, Fullerton. The project seeks to advance student success during the first two years of college for ECS students. Towards that goal, the project incorporates a very diverse set of approaches, such as socio-cultural and academic interventions. Multiple strategies including developing early intervention strategies in gateway STEM courses, creating a nurturing faculty-student interaction and collaborative learning environment, providing relevant, contextual-based learning experiences, integrating project-based learning with engineering design in lower-division courses, exposing lower-division students to research to sustain student interests, and helping students develop career-readiness skills. The project also seeks to develop an understanding of the personal, social, cognitive, and contextual factors contributing to student persistence in STEM learning that can be used by STEM faculty to improve their pedagogical andmore »student-interaction approaches. This paper summarizes the major approaches the ASSURE-US project plans to implement to reduce the achievement gap and motivate ECS students to remain in the program. Preliminary findings from the first-year implementation of the project including pre- and post- data were collected and analyzed from about one hundred freshmen and sophomore ECS students regarding their academic experience in lower-division classes and their feedback for various social support events held by the ASSURE-US project during the academic year 2018-19. The preliminary results obtained during the first year of ASSURE-US project suggests that among the different ASSURE-US activities implemented in the first year, both the informal faculty-student interactions and summer research experiences helped students commit more to their major during their lower-division years. The pre-post surveys also show improvements in terms of awareness among ASSURE-US students for obtaining academic support services, understanding career options and pathways, and obtaining personal counseling services.« less
  3. Need/Motivation (e.g., goals, gaps in knowledge) The ESTEEM implemented a STEM building capacity project through students’ early access to a sustainable and innovative STEM Stepping Stones, called Micro-Internships (MI). The goal is to reap key benefits of a full-length internship and undergraduate research experiences in an abbreviated format, including access, success, degree completion, transfer, and recruiting and retaining more Latinx and underrepresented students into the STEM workforce. The MIs are designed with the goals to provide opportunities for students at a community college and HSI, with authentic STEM research and applied learning experiences (ALE), support for appropriate STEM pathway/career, preparation and confidence to succeed in STEM and engage in summer long REUs, and with improved outcomes. The MI projects are accessible early to more students and build momentum to better overcome critical obstacles to success. The MIs are shorter, flexibly scheduled throughout the year, easily accessible, and participation in multiple MI is encouraged. ESTEEM also establishes a sustainable and collaborative model, working with partners from BSCS Science Education, for MI’s mentor, training, compliance, and building capacity, with shared values and practices to maximize the improvement of student outcomes. New Knowledge (e.g., hypothesis, research questions) Research indicates that REU/internship experiences canmore »be particularly powerful for students from Latinx and underrepresented groups in STEM. However, those experiences are difficult to access for many HSI-community college students (85% of our students hold off-campus jobs), and lack of confidence is a barrier for a majority of our students. The gap between those who can and those who cannot is the “internship access gap.” This project is at a central California Community College (CCC) and HSI, the only affordable post-secondary option in a region serving a historically underrepresented population in STEM, including 75% Hispanic, and 87% have not completed college. MI is designed to reduce inequalities inherent in the internship paradigm by providing access to professional and research skills for those underserved students. The MI has been designed to reduce barriers by offering: shorter duration (25 contact hours); flexible timing (one week to once a week over many weeks); open access/large group; and proximal location (on-campus). MI mentors participate in week-long summer workshops and ongoing monthly community of practice with the goal of co-constructing a shared vision, engaging in conversations about pedagogy and learning, and sustaining the MI program going forward. Approach (e.g., objectives/specific aims, research methodologies, and analysis) Research Question and Methodology: We want to know: How does participation in a micro-internship affect students’ interest and confidence to pursue STEM? We used a mixed-methods design triangulating quantitative Likert-style survey data with interpretive coding of open-responses to reveal themes in students’ motivations, attitudes toward STEM, and confidence. Participants: The study sampled students enrolled either part-time or full-time at the community college. Although each MI was classified within STEM, they were open to any interested student in any major. Demographically, participants self-identified as 70% Hispanic/Latinx, 13% Mixed-Race, and 42 female. Instrument: Student surveys were developed from two previously validated instruments that examine the impact of the MI intervention on student interest in STEM careers and pursuing internships/REUs. Also, the pre- and post (every e months to assess longitudinal outcomes) -surveys included relevant open response prompts. The surveys collected students’ demographics; interest, confidence, and motivation in pursuing a career in STEM; perceived obstacles; and past experiences with internships and MIs. 171 students responded to the pre-survey at the time of submission. Outcomes (e.g., preliminary findings, accomplishments to date) Because we just finished year 1, we lack at this time longitudinal data to reveal if student confidence is maintained over time and whether or not students are more likely to (i) enroll in more internships, (ii) transfer to a four-year university, or (iii) shorten the time it takes for degree attainment. For short term outcomes, students significantly Increased their confidence to continue pursuing opportunities to develop within the STEM pipeline, including full-length internships, completing STEM degrees, and applying for jobs in STEM. For example, using a 2-tailed t-test we compared means before and after the MI experience. 15 out of 16 questions that showed improvement in scores were related to student confidence to pursue STEM or perceived enjoyment of a STEM career. Finding from the free-response questions, showed that the majority of students reported enrolling in the MI to gain knowledge and experience. After the MI, 66% of students reported having gained valuable knowledge and experience, and 35% of students spoke about gaining confidence and/or momentum to pursue STEM as a career. Broader Impacts (e.g., the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM; development of a diverse STEM workforce, enhanced infrastructure for research and education) The ESTEEM project has the potential for a transformational impact on STEM undergraduate education’s access and success for underrepresented and Latinx community college students, as well as for STEM capacity building at Hartnell College, a CCC and HSI, for students, faculty, professionals, and processes that foster research in STEM and education. Through sharing and transfer abilities of the ESTEEM model to similar institutions, the project has the potential to change the way students are served at an early and critical stage of their higher education experience at CCC, where one in every five community college student in the nation attends a CCC, over 67% of CCC students identify themselves with ethnic backgrounds that are not White, and 40 to 50% of University of California and California State University graduates in STEM started at a CCC, thus making it a key leverage point for recruiting and retaining a more diverse STEM workforce.« less
  4. In this Work-in-Progress paper, we report on the challenges and successes of a large-scale First- Year Engineering and Computer Science Program at an urban comprehensive university, using quantitative and qualitative assessment results. Large-scale intervention programs are especially relevant to comprehensive minority serving institutions (MSIs) that serve a high percentage of first-generation college students who often face academic and socioeconomic barriers. Our program was piloted in 2015 with 30 engineering students, currently enrolls 60 engineering and computer science students, and is expected to grow to over 200 students by Fall 2020. The firstyear program interventions include: (i) block schedules for each cohort in the first year; (ii) redesigned project-based introduction to engineering and introduction to computer science courses; (iii) an introduction to mechanics course, which provides students with the foundation needed to succeed in the traditional physics sequence; and (iv) peer-led supplemental instruction (SI) workshops for Calculus, Physics and Chemistry. A faculty mentorship program was implemented to provide additional support to students, but was phased out after the first year. Challenges encountered in the process of expanding the program include administrative, such as scheduling and training faculty and SI leaders; barriers to improvement of math and science instruction; and more holisticmore »concerns such as creating a sense of community and identity for the program. Quantitative data on academic performance includes metrics such as STEM GPA and persistence, along with the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) for physics. Qualitative assessments of the program have used student and instructor surveys, focus groups, and individual interviews to measure relationships among factors associated with college student support and to extract student perspectives on what works best for them. Four years of data tell a mixed story, in which the qualitative effect of the interventions on student confidence and identity is strong, while academic performance is not yet significantly different than that of comparison groups. One of the most significant results of the program is the development of a FYrE Professional Learning Community which includes faculty (both tenure-track and adjunct), department chairs, staff, and administrators from across the campus.« less
  5. Background: Project management and other professional skill training is often lacking in graduate student education, typically as a result of limited resources, lack of faculty buy-in, and narrow focus on thesis research. To address this need and with support from NSF, we are developing the Graduates for Advancing Professional Skills (GAPS) program at Iowa State University. To aid the initial development of this program, we conducted a literature review to understand the current context of the development and implementation of professional skills in higher education curricula, with specific interest in STEM fields. Purpose: The purpose of our study was to identify best practices related to implementing professional development skills into an academic curriculum. The goal was to utilize this information in the development, planning, implementation, and assessment of our GAPS program. Design: We engaged in a systematic literature review. We focused on the curricular and pedagogical approaches to implementing these skills, results of the initiatives, and methodologies used to assess their effectiveness. Results: Our literature review uncovered the “messiness” of teaching and learning of skills such as project management. There is often not one approach or definition of project management – it may change based on scope of project andmore »context. Successful implementation requires adaptability, mentorship, problem solving, creativity, and communication. Additionally, project management has been referred to as a “threshold concept” and requires a certain level of intuition that cannot necessarily be gained through traditional classroom education. Conclusions: There appears to be an agreement on the importance of implementing project management skills at the postsecondary level. Our work illustrates the difficulty associated with undertaking this endeavor and provides guidance on approaches that can make these initiatives more beneficial. Although this literature was conducted to aid in the planning for our specific project, the synthesis of the extant works can inform other faculty and industry leaders who are interested in teaching and applying project management techniques in their courses or companies.« less