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Increasing Diversity in STEM
Over the past three decades, research efforts and interventions have been implemented across the United States to increase the persistence of underrepresented minority (URM) students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This Element systematically compares STEM interventions that offer resources and opportunities related to mentorship, research, and more. We organize the findings of this literature into a multi-phase framework of STEM integration and identity development. We propose four distinct phases of STEM integration: Phase 1: High School; Phase 2: Summer before College; Phase 3: First Year of College; and Phase 4: Second Year of College through Graduation. We combine tenets of theories about social identity, stereotypes and bias, and the five-factor operationalization of identity formation to describe each phase of STEM integration. Findings indicate the importance of exploration through exposure to STEM material, mentorship, and diverse STEM communities. We generalize lessons from STEM interventions to URM students across institutions. This Element is free online from 30th October - 13th November: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108882071
The Summer Scholars Institute at a northeastern university reflects a four-week out-of-school intervention that educates high school students from Newark, New Jersey about earth resources, energy, and the environment with the goal of increasing URM high school students’ STEM identity and interest. During the intervention, students regularly interacted with teachers, undergraduate student mentors, and peers from diverse backgrounds. The longitudinal study was designed to identify social psychological changes over the course of the four-week intervention, and to examine if increases in sense of belonging to teachers, undergraduate students, or high school peers strengthen implicit and explicit science identity and interest. By directly comparing three types of STEM relationships, we identified undergraduate students, compared to teachers and high school peers, underlie changes in science identity among URM high school students.