Settings Yielding Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math Success (ED-SYSTEMS)

Project Abstract:

Community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), provide several pathways and linkages to the STEM pipeline and are key access points to postsecondary education for underrepresented racial minorities (URM), specifically African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos. This study seeks to examine STEM pathways for students who began at community colleges, with a specific emphasis on URM students, student mobility across multiple institutions, and the role of HSIs.

The intellectual merit of the project resides in 1) the utilization of a nationally representative sample of students who began postsecondary education at two-year institutions and advanced statistical techniques, which allows for an inquiry of student mobility patterns to better understand the student- and institution-level factors (i.e., HSI status) that influence STEM outcomes; 2) social network analysis provides the opportunity for a more detailed study of regional data concurrent to the national study to identify patterns within the institutional networks that emerge from individual student mobility, which have implications for institutional policies; 3) in-depth qualitative interviews provide a nuanced investigation of influences on success in STEM not permitted by quantitative data alone.

The project’s broader impact will arise from the results’ potential to transform the structure and processes that underlie the STEM postsecondary trajectories by offering information about precise strategies to promote URMs. Partnerships with local institutions will strengthen capacity to track and consider students’ entire educational trajectories to better assess STEM outcomes and impact policies and practices, which can be scaled up to inform STEM efforts widely.

Funded by the National Science Foundation DUE-1644990; PI: Dr. Felisha Herrera Villarreal