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CUR Conference: Panel Discussion on URM Persistence in STEM

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From left: Drs. Hohmann, Aninye, and King

Although the impacts of undergraduate research (UGR) on student confidence, understanding, and awareness of careers in the STEM fields are well-studied, programs can encounter challenges in broadening participation, addressing student preparedness, and institutionalizing effective support systems, particularly for minority students in STEM. Academic persistence and subsequent representation in STEM careers remains low among African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Pacific Island students.

Addressing these issues was the goal of an RCP-led discussion at the Council on Undergraduate Research 2018 Conference, on the topic of “Bridging the STEM gap for underrepresented minorities through undergraduate research.” The discussion focused on tools and practices to promote successful outcomes in training underrepresented minorities in STEM through undergraduate research, and included findings from a retrospective analysis of some of RCP’s strategic assessments of STEM programs.

RCP has been providing independent assessment and impact analysis of STEM programs and initiatives for the past 20 years, totaling over 250 reports, with a significant emphasis on student training and research. The retrospective analysis included in this discussion examined a subset of reports, that focused on programs that RCP has assessed at least three times over five years from 2010 to present. Forty-eight institutions are represented in these reports, with diversity ranging from research-intensive universities to community colleges, and including eight primarily undergraduate institutions, eleven minority-serving intuitions, and three tribal colleges. Approaches that have promoted successful outcomes and impacts in engaging under-represented minorities in UGR that were addressed in report findings and recommendations include those focusing on broadening access and participation, addressing student preparedness, developing mentors, and institutionalizing support for UGR.

In addition to RCP Senior Program Associate Dr. Irene Aninye, a panel of successful research and scholarship program leaders shared their models for using UGS to increase retention in STEM graduate programs and careers. Dr. Christine Hohmann discussed the impacts of the Research Initiative for Science Enhancement (RISE) at Morgan State University, for which she is Director. Dr. Jacqueline King discussed outcomes of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers program (MARC U*STAR), for which she is the Associate Director.

The panel’s presentation can be viewed here.

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Author

Hannah Weiss

Project Coordinator