Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem
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Success Stories: How Social Identities Affect Students’ Educational Trajectories in STEM. AACU Annual Meeting October 22, 2010 Houston, Texas. Felisha Herrera Josephine Gasiewski Minh Tran Sylvia Hurtado , Principal Investigator Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA

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Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Success Stories: How Social Identities Affect Students’ Educational Trajectories in STEM

AACU Annual Meeting

October 22, 2010

Houston, Texas

Felisha Herrera

Josephine Gasiewski

Minh Tran

Sylvia Hurtado, Principal Investigator

Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA

Ricardo Jacquez, NMSU Dean of Engineering


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

A fundamental reason students who succeed in the sciences choose not to continue is because they experience conflict between their emerging science identity and “the enduring sense of who they are and who they want to become”.

(Cobb, 2004)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Background

  • Persistence in STEM Fields

    • Underrepresented racial minority (URM) students earn 17% of STEM bachelor degrees, but only 6-10% of STEM graduate enrollments are URMs

    • Women earn slightly more bachelor’s degrees in STEM than men, but earn only 21% of doctoral degrees in engineering and computer science and 30-40% of doctorates in other science fields.

      (NSF, 2009)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Overall Study

  • December 2009 to April 2010

  • 60 hours of semi-structured focus group

    interviews

  • 7 universities across US

    • 3 PWI, 3 HSI,1 HBCU

  •  150 masters /doctoral students

  • 35% African Americans

  • 21% White

  • 25% Latino/a

  • 9% Asian Americans

  • 5% American Indian

  • 5% who marked other

  • 50% women

  • average age 27.5

    (range of 21-53 years old)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Sub-Study

  • New Mexico State University & University of New Mexico

  • Bridge to the Doctorate Program

  • 31 STEM Graduate Students Participants

    • 17 Males; 14 Females

    • 87% Underrepresented Racial Minorities

      • 65% Latino/a

      • 12% American Indian

      • 12% White

      • 10% African American


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Conceptual Framework

Science Identity (Carlone & Johnson, 2007)

  • Recognition of being a legitimate “science person”

    Social Identity (Jones & McEwen 2000; Lin & Tate, 2005, Nasir & Saxe, 2003)

  • Multiple Identity Frameworks within Multiple Contexts

    Anti-Deficit Framework (Harper, 2007)

  • Emphasis on student experiences, support systems, and educational interventions

    Validation Theory (Rendon, 1994; 2002)

  • Enabling, confirming and supportive process


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Science Identity Development Model

Adapted from: Jones & McEwen (2000)

Societal

Family/Community

Multiple Contexts

Science

Religion/

Spirituality

Race/

Ethnicity

Mental/Physical Ability

Science

Identity

Socioeconomic

Status

  • Science Context

  • Interactions with faculty/peers in science

  • Institution/

  • disciplinary culture

  • Lab/classroom environments

Nationality/

Immigration Status

Gender

Culture

Sexual Orientation


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Key Themes on Identity

  • Science identity development

  • Interactions between multiple identities and science

  • Negotiating conflict between multiple identities and science

  • Support systems and educational interventions


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Science Identity Development

I think science is definitely a big part of my life and it’s a big part of who I am, just because it’s more of a way of thinking. I think you see things in a different way than maybe other people do, and you analyze things and you want to know why things work the way they do and how they work.

(Latina Female)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Science Identity Development

I am the first one in my family to complete a degree…my family, they were like “Oh, look at the new engineer.”  Well, I don’t feel like engineer.  I think I will feel like one once I work with a big company and I participate with the big projects and I’ll feel like I contributed to those kind of projects. So I think afterwards I will feel like an engineer.

(Latino Male)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Interactions between Multiple Identities and Science

I think I became interested in science just as a way to understand my surroundings. I grew up on an Indian reservation so I saw a lot of death and a lot of disease and things like that going on when I was growing up. My interest was, like I said, was to understand my environment and try to get a feel for the underlying causes of the things I was seeing.

(American Indian Male)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Interactions between Multiple Identities and Science

Q: What’s it like being female engineers?

A: It always surprises people when you tell them. It was funny, when I came down here for the tour, I came with my boyfriend at the time. We went through the department, and the department head addressed him. [My boyfriend] was like, “Not me. I’m goin’ to journalism.” So there’s still stereotypes, but most people are like “Wow cool.”

(Latina Female)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Negotiating Identity Conflicts

He asked me “How does you being in science…, does that conflict with your religious beliefs?” I can see the perceptions that you hear all the time, and I do feel it ‘cause I am a religious person first, then everything else. So I do think they interact all the time, but I think being in science and even as a student with a culture and identity, I think they just blend. I think sometimes putting on your hat at this certain place is okay. Okay, now I have to [put on another hat because] now I’m with this group. I’m a Christian first. So wherever I’m at that’s gonna be my focus first and then I blend in if I’m science.

(Latino Male)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Negotiating Identity Conflicts

I think it wasn’t until high school that I took a biology course, and I really loved biology; it was my favorite course. But at that point I still didn’t have the confidence to think I could do science. I was never good at math, so it never would have occurred to me to do anything related to science or technology. I think if you’re not good in those subjects you kind of do get shifted to another path. So it took me having to wait until I was older and just saying, “I like it, and I’m going to do it”. One of my goals now is to work with minority students to try to lift them up at a teaching capacity so they don’t have to feel like I did, like, “Wow, I don’t belong here.”

(Latina Female)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Support Systems and Educational Interventions

I talk about my experiments with my parents and my little brothers. I talk about our immune system, how it’s activated and what happens when something goes wrong. They’re just amazed by it ‘cause I’m Navajo so we have stories of how we became us, but then there’s a science part to that too. They like to hear what I learned and its relevance. Maybe because there’s stuff that they didn’t know could go on in your body, so it’s really fun for you to talk with your family about [science]. They’re really supportive.

(American Indian Female)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Support Systems and Educational Interventions

It’s nice to see people that are from different ethnicities, different backgrounds, doing things that they’re doing right now. It actually kind of encourages you. Like they’re doing this so I’m definitely able to do this.

(American Indian Female)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Support Systems and Educational Interventions

There are some programs that actually help support students. So, for example, there’s a program here that recruits students from community colleges from the four corners and they bring them down here and give them some experience in science. They allow them to work in a lab and actually get a feel for it. That’s what really drives a lot of students to come to this university. They have their mentor. They have a way of supporting themselves financially [through] programs that help students work in the lab and pay them to work. So that really helps people I think.

(American Indian Female)


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

New Mexico AMP Bridge to the Doctorate Program

Provides access to:

  • academic support

  • financial support

  • professional development

  • faculty mentorship and guided-research

Seeks to produce highly qualified Ph.D. candidates and to track students’ academic progress and professional development through the Ph.D.


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Discussion

  • Institutional change vs. individual integration

    • Awareness of potential “mismatch” science culture and environments (i.e. values, practices, etc.) and students’ identities

    • Validation of social identity acknowledges student’s contributions

    • The importance of identity considerations across both academic and student support


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Moving from Research to Practice

Group Discussion

  • How do these issues affect your individual campuses?

  • Given the research findings, each group will develop a list of recommendations for their respective institutions.


Success stories how social identities affect students educational trajectories in stem

Contact Information

Administrative Staff:

Aaron Pearl

Faculty and Co-PIs:

Sylvia Hurtado

Mitchell Chang

Postdoctoral Scholars:

Kevin Eagan

Josephine Gasiewski

Graduate Research Assistants:

Christopher Newman

Minh Tran

Jessica Sharkness

Monica Lin

Gina Garcia

Felisha Herrera

Cindy Mosqueda

Juan Garibay

Tanya Figueroa

Papers and reports are available for download at:

http://heri.ucla.edu/nih

Project e-mail: [email protected]

Acknowledgments: This study was made possible by the support of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH Grant Numbers 1 R01 GMO71968-01 and R01 GMO71968-05 as well as the National Science Foundation, NSF Grant Number 0757076. This independent research and the views expressed here do not indicate endorsement by the sponsors.


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