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Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce (2019)

Chapter: 5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success

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Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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5

Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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The committee’s charge included two compelling research questions:

  1. What are examples of model programs on Minority Serving Institution (MSI) campuses that have demonstrated strong evidence of success in producing quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates?
  2. What are the key components of these programs that promote student success?

Providing straightforward answers to these questions is challenging. MSIs, like other institutions, implement an eclectic mix of evidence-based and promising (albeit not rigorously evaluated) programs, practices, and strategies. The programs range from large, established, federally funded initiatives to small, newly launched, faculty-piloted efforts. Unfortunately—as is the case with many higher education programs, interventions, and extracurricular support activities—most lack clear, quantifiable evaluations, often the result of limited resources and institutional capacity for assessment, data collection, analysis, and communication. A lack of designated grant funding and the overall challenge to evaluate programs as a collective contribute to the inadequacy of data. (See Chapter 6 for the committee’s recommendations to public and private funders to support the evaluation of MSIs and the promising strategies and effective programs they use to support their students.)

The limited evidence base for such interventions and programs complicated the committee’s examination to meet its statement of task. Thus, while we identified and drew lessons from programs that had undergone rigorous external evaluation, we also considered those that show promise based on more experiential and/or anecdotal evidence. In addition, many STEM-focused programs reviewed

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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by the committee had objectives and outcomes of student success not always directly tied to the degree production referred to in the first question above, making it difficult to determine common trends or primary principles for effectiveness. For this reason, the committee employed a broader definition of student success (see Box 5-1).

Despite these challenges, the committee carried out a comprehensive search to find effective programs, practices, and strategies. As detailed in this chapter, we were able to reach consensus on a number of key interventions and conditions that we judged beneficial to STEM students of color at MSIs when designed and offered with intentionality, that is, tailored to recognize and address student strengths and challenges across academic, social, and financial dimensions.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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COMMITTEE RESEARCH PLAN

The committee’s search for evidence-based and promising programs included a comprehensive literature review, discussions informed by nine MSI site visits, expert testimony and presentations at two open-session meetings, and committee members’ own research expertise and experiences working with and on MSI campuses. This effort is described below and summarized in Box 5-2.

Literature Review

The committee commissioned a literature review by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions (the Penn Center), summarized here and detailed more fully in Appendix E. A tiered review encompassed three areas of focus: (1) STEM education for students of color across higher education (MSIs and non-MSIs), (2) student success at MSIs (STEM and non-STEM), and (3) student success in STEM at MSIs. Using committee-directed criteria and casting a wide net of search terms, the Penn Center identified and analyzed more than 170 studies for common themes or lessons learned. See Appendix E for additional details.

The focus of the first literature search sought evidence on what works pertaining to supporting the success of underrepresented minorities in STEM education, not necessarily at MSIs. This search uncovered 78 publications of various types; reflective of the aforementioned concerns about the available evidence, most relied on self-reported data rather than more rigorous, external evaluations. Other constraints were that some studies, including randomized controlled trials, were not isolated to STEM and/or MSIs. Nonetheless, this initial review pointed to three recurring themes: the importance of undergraduate research experience

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

in STEM education, the role of peer support groups to improve student persistence, and the impact of a flexible curriculum structure on students’ persistence in STEM.

The second literature search focused on evidence for specific MSI practices, policies, and/or programs that support students’ success, although not necessarily limited to STEM. Most of this literature was designed to understand MSIs and their contributions to higher education. The majority of the publications employed a case study methodology and were multisite in nature. A small number used propensity score matching, mainly focused on degree attainment. Across the 30 studies identified, a significant number highlighted the benefits to students when MSIs offer culturally relevant approaches to learning, developmental education when needed, and an environment that promotes college completion and success. Regardless of MSI type and the racial and ethnic makeup of students served, many of the interventions focused on the need to help students embrace their full identities, the power of culturally relevant assignments in retention efforts, the importance of collaboration over competition, and the vital nature of peer support and peer-to-peer mentoring.

The third literature search was the most focused: STEM education for students of color at MSIs. Again, although the aim was to include quasi-experimental design and experimental design studies, most of the studies conducted were case studies. The emergent themes included the importance of sustained and personalized faculty and peer mentoring, the opportunity to engage in research, the value of early recruitment (precollege) and the importance of summer bridge programs, the opportunity to engage in STEM-related extracurricular and community activities, an emphasis on sequenced and comprehensive courses, and the need for counseling and other supports to help students make successful transitions to graduate school and the STEM workforce.

Site Visits

Subgroups of the committee conducted site visits to MSIs across the nation. While it would have been valuable to visit more schools, time and financial resources required tough decisions on which institutions to visit. The nine MSIs visited were selected from a list of nominated institutions culled from discussions with key stakeholders in the study.1 It was important to visit public and private, large and small, as well as two- and four-year institutions. Four MSI types (Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions were represented in this effort. Commit-

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1 Nominations were accepted from MSI advocacy and association groups, including the United Negro College Fund, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, and University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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tee members held private, group interviews with administrators, faculty, alumni, students, and community stakeholders at Dillard University (Louisiana), Mission College (California), Morgan State University (Maryland), North Carolina A&T State University (North Carolina), Salish Kootenai College (Montana), San Diego State University (California), University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (Texas), West Los Angeles College (California), and Xavier University (Louisiana). Using a structured set of questions, the conversations varied by campus, but each provided valuable insights to the study’s charge. See Appendix C for additional details on the committee’s site visits.

Common themes that surfaced during conversations with faculty and administrators on these nine campuses included a passion for the mission of providing a high-quality education for their students and preparing them for a successful future, and a continual search for innovative ways to do so; a commitment to creating an expectation of success while also fostering a supportive and caring community; and the need to weigh ambitious aims against limited resources. Many MSI faculty and staff find themselves stretched thin, balancing research and teaching loads with other responsibilities that they recognize as vital, such as outreach, resource development, mentoring, and other responsibilities.

Presentations and Committee Discussions

Complementing the literature review and site visits, the committee hosted two public meetings to gather insight from educators, researchers, advocates, policy makers, public and private funders, and other relevant stakeholders of higher education. Invited panelists representing MSIs University of Alaska Anchorage and South Texas College2 provided important testimony and data to the committee. (See Appendix B for meeting agendas.) In sum, the speakers presented a holistic view of the academic, social, and financial concerns of students; the need for evaluations, including better data, to point to what is working; and the struggle to fund opportunities that could benefit students and institutions.

The committee members deliberated on findings from the literature reviews, site visits, and presentations alongside their own experiences as faculty, administrators, partners, researchers, and/or alumni of MSIs. These rich and diverse sources notwithstanding, we acknowledge the limitations of the research evidence on current strategies to promote STEM student success, especially at MSIs.

Some resources provided stronger, more empirically based evidence than others. In the vast majority of the research (including peer-reviewed research), data-driven findings specific to outcomes in STEM at MSIs were not available. The reasons behind this paucity are not limited to the topic at hand. As noted in another recent National Academies study focused on STEM in higher education

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2 The University of Alaska Anchorage is a public, four-year Alaska Native-Serving and Hawaiian-Serving Institution. Texas South College is a public, two-year Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

(NASEM 2018), the reasons include the challenges in determining appropriate measures of impact (particularly among MSIs—see Chapter 3) and in isolating the effects of a particular intervention that is undertaken alongside others, and the higher costs and ethical concerns associated with research designs to isolate those effects, especially in light of MSIs’ student needs and limited resources. Another challenge is the difficulty of gathering data on longitudinal effects as students leave an institution (whether to transfer to a four-year school, go on to further graduate study, or enter the workforce). And last but definitely not least, the costs of undertaking evaluative research, especially when not included in a grant or other funding source, are difficult for an MSI to incur when so many other, immediate financial needs compete for scarce resources. (See Chapter 6 for the committee’s recommendations for additional evidence-based research related to MSIs.)

INTENTIONALITY

Many of the programmatic and institutional efforts identified by the committee, such as mentorship or peer tutoring, are not new or unique to MSIs. However, what is novel about the committee’s task is the opportunity to examine these efforts through the lens of their potential impact on the nation’s future STEM workforce, in an MSI context. A common theme that emerged from the committee’s investigations and subsequent deliberations on these efforts is what the committee has described as intentionality.

Intentionality, as defined by the committee, is a calculated and coordinated method of engagement used by institutions, agencies, organizations, and the private sector to effectively meet the needs of a designated population, in this case within a given higher education institution. Intentionality drives the creation of programs, practices, and policies that are tailored to recognize and address student differences across multiple dimensions: academic, financial, social, and with cultural mindfulness. Intentionality takes into account such student needs, as well as student strengths and attributes; in other words, students are not viewed as problems to fix but talent to cultivate.

As described in Chapters 3 and 4, many students enrolling at MSIs are nontraditional students,3 have families with few discretionary financial assets, have had limited opportunities to access robust academic offerings and support systems, or come from high schools with low levels of college and career guidance and counseling services (Conrad and Gasman 2015). As a result, many of these students enter postsecondary education with the need for support services

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3 Nontraditional students are generally defined as students with one of the following characteristics: independent, having one or more dependents, being a single caregiver, not having received a standard high school diploma, having delayed enrollment in postsecondary education by a year or more after high school, working full time while enrolled, and/or attending school part time (Brock 2010; Choy 2002; Horn and Carroll 1996; Kim 2002, Taniguchi and Kaufman 2005).

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

that go beyond access to quality classroom instruction. MSIs that design their programs and services with an intentional focus on addressing the holistic needs of their students see greater student success in terms of academic outcomes and workforce readiness (Museus et al. 2011; Palmer et al. 2015).

From its analysis of the evidence base, the committee concluded that programs demonstrating the most promise in enhancing the success of students of color, particularly those in STEM fields, are intentional. They assess the social, cultural, and academic needs of the student population they serve; articulate clear objectives for their programs; implement evidence-based strategies to achieve program goals (e.g., leadership buy-in and support, designated staffing, maintenance of appropriate facilities, secured funding, and/or established partnerships); attempt to assess program outcomes through data collection, performance monitoring, and the use of data to inform future program development; and cultivate opportunities for program sustainability and growth (e.g., incorporation into institutional strategic plans and/or budgets, alumni and community outreach, and policy work and advocacy).

Some MSIs have articulated goals of intentionality through their mission and vision statements and charters. Arizona State University (ASU), for example, adopted a charter in 2014 that embodies this idea: “ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.”4 ASU is an enrollment-defined Hispanic Serving Institution; thus, demographics and not historical precedent determine its designation as an MSI. The charter reflects an intentional embrace of how it sees its role in relation to its students and the community.

Achieving intentionality is a challenge. In fact, after a comprehensive review of the literature, the committee determined that many minority- and STEM-focused programs fail to achieve all aspects of intentionality and, as a result, are unable to effectively or efficiently move the needle to increase the success of students of color in STEM. Combined with the current funding challenges for MSIs (see Chapter 4 for a detailed discussion), we consider it especially vital that MSIs—and other stakeholders in the MSI education system, including employers, federal and state governments, and private foundations—invest their resources in classroom, laboratory, student support services, and strategies that embody intentionality.

To further explore how intentionality manifests itself to support students of color at MSIs, the committee identified seven core strategies, described below with illustrative examples. We also highlight six programs in this chapter that employ one or more of these strategies: (1) Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit that aims for whole-system transformation at two-year institutions; (2) the

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4 See https://president.asu.edu/about/asucharter.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, a University of Alaska program with a focus on a middle school through graduate STEM education for Alaska Natives; (3) A Student-Centered ENtrepreneurship Development (ASCEND) program, a program to encourage student entrepreneurship in biomedical sciences at Morgan State University; (4) the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative, funded by the National Institutes of Health to support biomedical research capacity (including ASCEND); (5) Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, a long-standing National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative to build the STEM pipeline; and (6) Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA), another longstanding program with a goal of successfully transitioning STEM students from community colleges to four-year institutions. (See Appendix D for links to additional program details on the illustrative examples and the six highlighted programs.)

The diversity of these initiatives, in terms of structure, scale, goals, and funding, show many possibilities, but no one-size-fits-all formula exists to foster success.

STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE STUDENT SUCCESS

Drawing on the concept of intentionality, and review of the research and other inputs, the committee identified seven core strategies or interventions that appear the most promising for cultivating and supporting the success of MSI students in STEM fields, with an emphasis on undergraduate students:

  • Dynamic, multilevel, mission-driven leadership;
  • Institutional responsiveness to student needs;
  • Campus climates that support a sense of belonging for students;
  • Student-centered academic and social supports;
  • Effective mentorship and sponsorship;
  • Undergraduate research experiences; and
  • Mutually beneficial public- and private-sector partnerships.

Many of these strategies are not novel to the MSI community; however, with a focus on intentionality, each of these practices can be replicated (or, as appropriate, adapted) and brought to scale at MSIs to bolster the success of students of color and enrich the campus community at large. Furthermore, they are interrelated: mission-driven leadership will help foster a positive campus climate, strong partnerships can provide research experience and mentorships, and the like.

These seven strategies are described in the remainder of this chapter, with illustrative examples. (Appendix D compiles these examples, with website links for further information.) They are offered as illustrations for MSIs and their stakeholders (i.e., federal and state governments, business and industry, founda-

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

tions, and others) to adopt or adapt to support MSI students, particularly those in STEM, in their sphere of influence. MSIs have also been innovative in experimenting with new programs to prepare their students for success in the future. Although not always based on hard evidence, these programs reflect the desire to experiment and think outside the box (Conrad and Gasman 2015). Given the diversity and rapid growth of the MSI sector, established MSIs may find new promising ideas here that support their efforts to recruit and retain students, while newly emerging MSIs can become aware of the most effective strategies to support the success of their rapidly changing student demographics.

Many of the examples highlighted below are national or regional programs implemented at multiple institutions. The committee thus offers an additional caveat, recognizing that the impact of a particular program may rise or fall at a specific institution depending on institutional buy-in, infrastructure and capacity, available funding, competing ventures, and other contextual considerations. In addition, many (but not all) of the programs discussed below lack formal evaluations and impact assessments, or are largely based on anecdotal evidence. As such, the committee refers to these multisite and single-site programs as promising programs to support MSI students. In the future, assessment and evaluation data can be used to modify the programs and their institutional support structures to enable them to thrive, extend their reach to additional students, and be replicated or adapted elsewhere.

Dynamic, Multilevel, Mission-Driven Leadership

Strong leadership at MSIs is critical for student success. Together, the president, governing boards, and senior administrators are the key drivers for determining the progress of the institution. They have the responsibility to establish and promote the institution’s culture of success, organize institutional priorities, serve as prominent figures in their local and regional communities, and determine the most effective policies and practices to support the educational and sociocultural success of enrolled students (Palmer et al. 2018). MSI leadership—its challenges, successes, and recommended best practices—is not a highly researched or reviewed topic in the higher education literature. Although recent progress has been made (e.g., Palmer et al. 2018), many of the committee’s conclusions regarding MSI leadership come from MSI site visit communications and personal expertise.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

In their research, the committee learned that leadership at MSIs needs to be proactive and creative (Whittaker and Montgomery 2012). At site-visits it was stressed that leadership needs to be faithful to the vision of the institution as one that serves one or more specific populations of underrepresented students; committed to academic and social supports that reflect intentionality; and steadfast in a desire to develop and maintain a culture of transparent communication, trust, and accountability. Furthermore, given the need for alignment of strategic priorities and governance practices with operational management, a shared commitment between the head of the institution (i.e., president or chancellor) and its board of trustees is of paramount importance (Commodore et al. 2018; Hodge-Clark 2017). MSI leadership needs to be committed to promote and preserve the institution’s mission and its unique culture and climate (Toldson 2013). Such leadership may need to be creative and flexible when encountering environmental and fiscal barriers and pursue “outside-the-box” opportunities to support student success.

Strong leadership at MSIs and non-MSIs requires many of the same qualities, yet anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a notable difference in the level and nature of leadership that is needed at MSIs. As discussed in Chapter 4, there are substantial differences between the resources available for MSIs as compared to non-MSIs. Given the paucity of resources and challenges in building institutional capacity, when leading in these environments it is critical to be both strategic and operational in focus (Schexnider 2013). MSI administrators “wear multiple hats” while seeking out new ways to advance the institution’s mission. As observed at several site-visit locations, leadership duties and responsibilities are often widely distributed, akin to principles of a “shared leadership” (Kezar and Holcombe 2016). MSI STEM faculty and staff are often tasked with or take it upon themselves to create, manage, and advocate for important institutional initiatives, in addition to their teaching loads, research, and administrative demands. To support their needs, MSI faculty and administrators stressed the importance of transparent communication across committees and other formal and informal channels, and the involvement of senior leadership.

An institutionalized culture of “we are all in this together” was the common thread observed among leadership at MSIs. Establishing a supportive institutional environment for the faculty and engaging them as highly invested stakeholders, as well as implementing programmatic efforts to break down institutional silos and establish collaborative leadership, shows evidence of success for institution-wide transformations (Blake 2018; Godreau et al. 2015; Wilson-Kennedy et al. 2018). As an example, to support the development and launch of a comprehensive plan to transform and advance STEM research and education on its campus, North Carolina A&T State University’s faculty and administrators utilized a collaborative leadership approach—a strategic method that breaks down institutional silos and fosters connectivity across multiple levels and disciplines to establish widespread change (Kezar and Holcombe 2016).

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

Some institutions seeking to instill change take a “top-down” approach, starting at the governance level and permeating all levels of leadership, from the head of the institution to other senior executive level management. Alternatively, others follow a “bottom-up” approach, initiated at the faculty level with the aim of gaining the support of senior leadership. Both approaches were viewed as effective when leadership was not siloed, but distributed in the end, necessitating effective and transparent communications channels and a culture of respect for differing roles and responsibilities. Xavier University of Louisiana provides an illustrative example of the use of these approaches. Many of the people interviewed during the committee’s site visit credited the vision of the institution’s president and the efforts of the director of the PreMed Office, both recently retired, in laying the foundation of a campus culture that combines high expectations and personal relationships. Given that Xavier University is among the top schools in the country in the number of African American graduates who go on to U.S. medical schools, with an acceptance rate well above the national average, its leadership, appears to have played a critical role in cultivating the educational success of Xavier students.

Thinking long term, to continue to support the complex needs of MSIs, it is important for MSIs to be mindful of new and creative ways to prepare the next generation of MSI leaders, to support widespread professional development for institutions’ faculty and staff, and to be strategically engaged in succession planning (Hodge-Clark 2017; Pickens 2010). As an example, the leadership of the University of Alaska-Anchorage’s Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), described in Box 5-3, developed a program to support the advancement of faculty to cultivate new leaders in STEM fields and provide examples of success to which students can aspire. Recognizing a need for Alaska Native faculty development and growth, Herb Schroeder, ANSEP founder and vice provost, established a “Grow Your Own Ph.D.” component of the program, providing opportunities to send faculty to out-of-state institutions to earn doctoral degrees. As discussed in the committee’s public meeting, he then negotiated an agreement with the University of Alaska’s administration to ensure acceptance of these faculty members into tenure-track positions within the College of Engineering upon their return.

As another example, the San Diego State University’s (SDSU’s) Building on Inclusive Excellence Hiring Program allocates five tenure-track positions to qualified candidates who meet criteria aligned with SDSU’s commitment to diversity. Thus, the leadership acknowledges the contributions of faculty members who engage with students (through service, teaching, mentoring, research, etc.) and who demonstrate expertise in cross-cultural communication and collaboration.

The committee’s recommendations for how MSI leaders and their stakeholders can cultivate a pipeline of forward-looking, mission-driven MSI leaders, MSIs, and their stakeholders are presented in Chapter 6.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×
Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

Institutional Responsiveness to Student Needs

The core, and indeed intentional, mission for many MSIs is to help their students successfully address potential academic, financial, and social challenges, and empower them to succeed (Gasman and Conrad 2013). Enhanced responsiveness to student needs can be facilitated by building institutional capacity and supporting a culture of inquiry that is focused on data collection and evaluation (Chaplot et al. 2013; Museus and Jayakumar 2011). Achieving the Dream, highlighted in Box 5-4, is an example of an initiative that uses data to improve student support programs and services across institutions.

As discussed in Chapter 3, MSIs educate a largely nontraditional student body. Not surprisingly, managing basic needs, such as transportation, health care, food, and housing, poses an additional challenge for many MSI students. In fact, many students who drop out of school do so largely because of social and financial challenges, as opposed to academic ones (Cahalan and Perna 2015).

Many schools, including MSIs, have instituted technology-based, Early Alert systems. The systems track student attendance, academic performance, and behaviors, so schools can use these data to help students before they fail or drop out. Critical to their effectiveness, according to one study (Hanover Research 2014), is how an institution uses the information as part of a larger strategy to support students once they have been “flagged.” At Salish Kootenai College, the committee learned that the Early Alert system is located within a broader Department of Student Success to serve as the link between student services and college faculty.

Other notable examples of support uncovered during the committee’s site visits include the following:

  • Alternative staff work schedules to assist students who need flexible access to certain supports (for example, counseling offices open beyond the typical Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 schedule);
  • Increased course offerings to support students who need to repeat a class, but do not want to lose a year of academic time waiting for the opportunity to reenroll;
  • Open educational resources to provide free online teaching, learning, and resource materials for educators and students;
  • Access to technology and STEM Centers that provide students with online course materials, software, computers, and printers;
Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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  • Transportation and housing assistance to alleviate costs for students enrolled at campuses located in remote geographic regions or in regions where the cost of living is high;
  • Capped tuition and fees to lessen the financial burden on students; and
  • Health care services and food pantries to help ensure that basic needs are being met.

Institutional support may also include online and/or distance learning, evening, weekend, and/or hybrid courses (i.e., combination of in-person and virtual

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

instruction), coupled with tailored tutoring sessions and co-instruction (Crockett 2014; Drew et al. 2015; Drew et al. 2016; Mosina 2014; QEM 2012). For example, NetLAB technology at West LA College allows students to remotely access course materials when it is most convenient for their schedules. In addition, noncredit instruction at West LA is offered free to students to facilitate the transition into credit programs, career and technical education, or employment without incurring tuition costs for courses that carry no credits. As another example, cloud-based learning management systems like Schoology, used at Salish Kootenai College among other institutions, connect faculty, students, and administrators and allow for the creation and management of shared content and resources.

Some MSIs, particularly those with large shares of students whose first or primary language is not English, have implemented programs (in STEM and non-STEM) to harness the linguistic resources that students bring to the classroom. An example of leveraging students’ linguistic assets is the Visionlearning Project, a system of free open educational STEM learning modules and other resources available in English and Spanish (Carpi and Mikhailova 2003).

At the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), the B3 (bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate) Institute is committed to enhancing coursework by delivering it bilingually or in Spanish, and by integrating community-engaged teaching, research, and service. A bilingual program that originated at the former University of Texas Pan American (now part of UTRGV) offered an advanced composition course that engaged migrant students and their families in telling oral histories of their communities (Alvarez and Martínez 2014). Indeed, opportunities to do hands-on, culturally relevant research enhances the student experience (Thao et al. 2016). These programs help students strengthen their writing and oral communication skills, and increase the sense of connectivity to the university community (Alvarez and Martínez 2014; García and Okhidoi 2015).

While most of these programs and interventions are not specific to STEM majors, nor should they be, they offer the types of institutional support that STEM students need in order to thrive in their courses and laboratories.

Campus Climates That Support a Sense of Belonging for Students

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

An inviting and nurturing campus climate that supports a fundamental sense of community and culture, together with an institution that enables students to find and learn from each other, that provides holistic support, and that builds students’ confidence, is key to fostering student success at MSIs (Brown 2011; Locks et al. 2008; Perna et al. 2009; Tachine et al. 2017; Whittaker and Montgomery 2012). In aligning campus climate goals with leadership and institutional responsiveness strategies, faculty and staff at MSIs aim to cultivate climates that are supportive and inclusive. In fact, many highly academically qualified minority students who could attend more selective institutions report that they attend MSIs for this very reason (e.g., Santiago 2007). The emphasis on historical and cultural heritage is a motivation to attend HBCUs for many African American students, many of whom report they were encouraged by family members or teachers who themselves attended HBCUs, given their supportive environments (Freeman 2005; McDonough et al. 1997).

Several studies have found that MSIs cultivate a sense of family for their students (Conrad and Gasman 2015; Nguyen 2015). This sense goes beyond providing comfort and familiarity. It has been shown to facilitate interactions with faculty, grow students’ academic self-confidence and sense of belonging (Allen et al. 2007; Cuellar 2014; Chun et al. 2016; Williams Pichon 2016), and, in turn, lead to positive learning outcomes (Slovacek et al. 2012).

Some institutions place a strong emphasis on creating safe spaces, supporting students’ identities, and recognizing the desire of MSI students to engage with their communities. Many MSIs demonstrate considerable innovation through student-centered coursework that encourages talent development for students from diverse backgrounds. Often, this coursework weaves in culturally relevant approaches to leverage the cultural, community, linguistic, and related strengths that students bring with them to the classroom (Cole et al. 2011; Conrad and Gasman 2015; García et al. 2017; Hurtado et al. 2015). For example, faculty at HSIs have been shown more likely than those at non-HSIs to engage their students through strategies like collaborative learning and reflective journaling, each of which has been shown to increase success for students of color (Felder and Brent 2016; García and Okhidoi 2015; Hurtado et al. 2015).

At Salish Kootenai College, leadership and faculty provide students with a culturally congruent education by weaving the livelihood and vitality of the Native American community into the curriculum. At the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, community-engaged research projects and programs, such as the NSF-funded Stimulating Hispanic Participation in the Geosciences program, have an embedded service learning component that allows for students and student organizations to give back to the community, in addition to training and workforce development goals.

Another crucial aspect of establishing and maintaining a supportive climate is building an equity-oriented culture that promotes equitable educational engagement, participation, and success (Dowd and Bensimon 2015; Museus and

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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Jayakumar 2011; Rubel 2017). Laying the foundation for a culture of equity and promoting communication among students, faculty, staff, administration, and board members is a current challenge faced by many emerging MSIs. The success of these initiatives is highly dependent on institutional commitment, political will, and visible leadership support for policies and practices aimed at closing gaps.

Mission College, for example, is creating an equity framework that guides its work in developing a collaborative infrastructure that aims to engage and drive the entire campus community toward an optimally inclusive and equitable environment. Mission also invites students to participate in the PUENTE Community College Program (active at roughly 70 community colleges across California) and its academic support, counseling, and mentoring services that seek to increase the number economically disadvantaged students who earn degrees from four-year institutions.

Project LEARN (Leading & Energizing African American Students to Research and Knowledge) at West Los Angeles College was established in 2011 to improve the educational outcomes of African American males. Today, Project LEARN is a community of faculty mentors, student mentors, and support staff who are committed to the academic success of all students. The program provides students with academic counseling and advising, mentoring, tutoring, and workshops and seminars focused on personal and professional skills development.5 Addressing the transition to college by nontraditional students is the Troops to Engineers (T2E) program at San Diego State University; T2E is designed to ensure a successful transition of military men and women—many of whom come from communities of color—to college and, ultimately, to future STEM careers. SDSU’s College of Engineering offers specialized services to veteran and active duty students including internships, counseling and academic support, and consideration of academic credit for military training.

Several schools have instituted STEM learning communities. Not exclusive to MSIs (or to STEM), learning communities (LCs) are “organized academic communities focused on a theme relevant to students. Students who participate in an LC are often housed together, take academic classes together, and are provided with educational and cultural programs to enhance the academic curriculum and social integration” (Carrino and Gerace 2016, p. 3). Research has shown that LCs can facilitate the academic success and persistence of their members (see, for example, Carrino and Gerace 2016). During the site visit at North Carolina A&T University, the committee learned about the STEM Theme House, a living learning community, supported through the North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) (described in more detail in Box 5-5). Students must submit a personal state-

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5 In addition to Project LEARN, West Los Angeles College offers several other cohort programs to support student progress. See http://www.wlac.edu/Academic/Cohort-Programs.aspx, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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ment to be considered; academic, personal, and professional development activities are designed to build their sense of community.

Entities such as the California Community Colleges’ Success Network and the National Institute for Transformation and Equity (NITE) are resources that MSIs use to create communities of practice and build more inclusive college campuses.6 For example, NITE uses tools, such as the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments survey, to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to best foster campus environments that value diversity, equity, and inclusion.7

Student-Centered Academic and Social Support

Deficiencies in academic preparation are a well-studied barrier to the success of students of color in STEM. As reported in the 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress study, African American, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native 12th-grade students consistently score lower than their White counterparts on mathematics and science assessments8 (Nation’s Report Card 2018a,b). Similar patterns are observed when examining the results of the 2014 Technology and Engineering Literacy assessment (Nation’s Report Card 2018c). Given the outcomes of these assessments and longevity of the pattern of results, some researchers suggest that the national K-12 education system does not appropriately prepare underrepresented students for continued education in the STEM fields as compared to their White counterparts (Gainen 1995; May and Chubin 2003; Meling et al. 2012). A number of factors have been implicated in contributing to this gap in performance, such as segregated schooling, resource disparities, poor funding, and unavailability of qualified teachers (May and Chubin 2003; Orfield et al. 2017; Ushomirsky and Williams 2015). While a comprehensive look at these issues is beyond the scope of the current study, the committee found that strong academic transition and support programs at MSIs are essential to the future success of their students in STEM.

Holistic approaches at MSIs that integrate academic and social support can be especially effective at fostering environments that promote persistence and STEM degree attainment among students of color. Successful strategies at MSIs include providing comprehensive developmental education opportunities (e.g., bridge programs and supplemental instruction), employing culturally relevant

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6 See http://3csn.org/ and https://www.indiana.edu/~cece/wordpress/ for more details, accessed October 2018.

7 See https://www.indiana.edu/~cece/wordpress/cece-model/, accessed October 2018.

8 In comparison to 2013 12th-grade math scores, there were no significant changes in the percentages of students at or above Proficient for any reported ethnic group. In comparison to 2009, there were no significant changes in the average 12th-grade science scores for any reported ethnic group.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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pedagogies, and designing course sequences that smooth transitions through introductory math, science, and other gateway courses (Conrad and Gasman 2015; Gasman and Conrad 2013; Parker 2012). Institution-supported bridge programs are among the most long-standing and highly effective efforts to support college readiness among students of color. So too, supplemental instruction can help students master course content, especially in introductory STEM classes that assume a certain level of secondary background and/or move through concepts quickly. Faculty, peer, and near-peer mentoring are often embedded or designed to occur alongside such supports (mentorship and sponsorship are considered as a separate, although interrelated strategy below). Coordination across various efforts or departments and sustained institutional commitment strengthen these supportive environments (Chun et al. 2016; Hrabowski III and Maton 2009; Maton et al. 2012; Maton et al. 2016; NAS, NAE, and IOM 2011).

Successful approaches at MSIs that provide academic support emphasize the following:

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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  • Positive reframing of the academic and cultural assets of students, rather than a deficit orientation that far too often dominates perceptions of students of color by faculty, staff, and others;
  • Gathering data about what students need to learn to advance in their education and develop their skills, which can require faculty to adjust their pedagogies;
  • Connecting students with peer mentors to foster collaboration rather than competition; and
  • Linking traditional academic affairs functions (such as instruction) to traditional student affairs functions (such as advising) to construct a more holistic approach to guiding students along their postsecondary trajectories (e.g., Conrad and Gasman 2015).
Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

Bridge Programs

Numerous types of bridge programs exist to provide academic support to students who require guidance and enhanced preparation for college-level coursework. Some are designed to enhance recruitment, engagement, and retention of high school students with weak or underdeveloped secondary school educations, while others support community college students who are transitioning to a four-year college. Bridge programs at MSIs are often constructed as intensive precollege summer or first-semester experiences to prepare students for the academic and social differences between high school and college. They typically have two components: (1) skills development, including preparation for college math, science, engineering, or technology courses, and (2) environmental transitioning, including initiatives that support the development of “soft skills” such as time management and intra- and interpersonal communication (Slade et al. 2015). These programs may also help to expose students to current and future STEM career opportunities (Merisotis and Kee 2006). In general, bridge programs have been associated with increased likelihood of academic success for students of color (Ghee et al. 2016; Harrington et al. 2016; Murphy et al. 2010; Strayhorn 2011; Tsui 2007).

The committee encountered many bridge program models on the nine site visits. The Center for Academic Success and Achievement Academy Summer Bridge Program at Morgan State University, for example, is designed to ease the transition from high school to college for students whose academic profile and performance suggest the need for early intervention to bolster their potential for success in college. Another program at Morgan State University, the Pre-Freshman Accelerated Curriculum in Engineering (PACE) Program, is a 5-week comprehensive and intensive summer program. PACE students complete fundamental coursework in physics, chemistry, mathematics, English, and computer science, which is meant to increase the probability of a successful freshman year. There is also a research rotation component. This program allows students to become acclimated to college life, and engage with professors, peers, and tutors.

San Diego State University’s college readiness program, the Freshman Academic Success Track (FAST), is mandatory for all California, first-time freshman with developmental educational needs in English. The program prepares students to excel in their classes at SDSU and is offered during the summer, prior to the start of fall classes. Another transition program is the SDSU Bridges Program, which assists students to make the transition from one of three community colleges to SDSU’s 4-year baccalaureate programs. Bridges@SDSU supports students who are underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences and/or populations disproportionately affected by health disparities. Sponsored through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, the overarching goal of the program is to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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Supplemental Instruction

Data show that attrition rates are highest among students who intend to major in a STEM discipline, particularly in their first two years of study (Carpi et al. 2013; Gainen 1995), and that a wide variety of social, academic, and economic factors contribute to these elevated rates (Carpi et al. 2013; Slade et al. 2015; Tinto 1993). Particularly relevant for students of color is an unfavorable academic institutional experience. Evidence shows that traditional classroom curriculum and standard lecture formats often create a competitive environment and fail to provide opportunities for active participation or collaboration among students, which are important considerations in creating opportunities for academic success by minority students (and indeed all) (Conrad and Gasman 2015; Gainen 1995; Gasman et al. 2017; Seymour and Hewitt 1997; Twigg 2005; Wieman 2017). Indeed, diversification of and improvements to teaching methods can be employed to help retain students of color in STEM fields because “uninspiring introductory courses” are often cited as a factor for those students who switch majors (PCAST 2012).

To support engagement and retention of students of color in STEM, one of the most common and well-researched academic supports is supplemental instruction (SI) (Meling et al. 2012; Meling et al. 2013). SI was first developed in 1973 at the University of Missouri–Kansas City to address attrition issues among minority students (Widmar 1994) but has taken many forms, one of which is referred to as Treisman’s model or simply “mathematical workshops” (Fullilove and Treisman 1990). There are many variations on the SI theme; however, they all focus on collaborative learning, group study, and interaction among peers.

Well-constructed, appropriately funded, and mindfully implemented SI and related tutoring initiatives continue to positively influence the success of students of color (Conrad and Gasman 2015; Gasiewski et al. 2012; May and Chubin 2003; Meling et al. 2012). In addition to promoting increased student success (e.g., improved retention and graduation rates) in the STEM fields, these interventions also promote higher confidence levels and critical thinking competence (Barlow and Villarejo 2004; Bowles and Jones 2004; Bowles et al. 2008; Congos 2002; Wilcox and Koehler 1996).

The committee learned of a number of promising SI programs but cannot point to a specific evidence-based model that encompasses STEM supplemental instruction for students of color at MSIs. With this caveat, SDSU has shown success with a supplemental instruction course, in which the sessions integrate course content with basic study skills and are facilitated by former, high-achieving students. Another form of SI encountered by the committee was the Embedded Tutoring Program at Mission College. This program supports a tutor in the classroom who provides more individualized attention and assistance during class activities to help improve students’ understanding and engagement. Embedded tutors are, most commonly, students who have successfully completed

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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the course previously. The tutors are also required to complete peer tutor and mentoring training.

Broader programs, such as the California Guided Pathways Project, that focus on institution-wide approaches that emphasize student-centered support systems, are structured to facilitate institutional capacity building through a shared knowledge network. Research has shown that peer-to-peer learning enhances student connection and interest in coursework (Meling et al. 2012; Tagg 2003). Peer-assisted tutoring has further been shown to minimize the stigma that may come with seeking help (Conrad and Gasman 2015; Engle and O’Brien 2007).

The National Center for Academic Transformation has developed a model to provide assistance with entry-level mathematics courses called the Emporium Model. It is in place at North Carolina A&T, among other institutions (including MSIs and non-MSIs, two-year and four-year institutions). It uses commercially available interactive software combined with personalized assistance from an instructor. Students must commit to mandatory class meetings and out-of-class, online homework to participate. An NSF-funded evaluation of the Emporium Model on student attitude, self-efficacy, effort, and performance was launched in 2018.9

Importantly, although these types of programs have shown success (Meling et al. 2012; Meling et al. 2013; Toven-Lindsey et al. 2015), the need for funds to sustain and institutionalize them continues to be a serious concern. Also needed are institutionalized efforts to support the professional development of faculty (e.g., updating curriculum, adjusting pedagogies, and employing diversity and mentorship training). South Texas College has recognized this need and has established the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) STEM Faculty Institute. Funded by Educate Texas’ Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator program, the RGV STEM Faculty Institute provides professional development opportunities for faculty to learn innovative, culturally mindful instructional strategies to better support the success of their students.

Effective Mentorship and Sponsorship

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9 For more information, see https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1818710&HistoricalAwards=false, accessed September 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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Mentoring has been described as an experienced person (mentor) guiding a less experienced person (mentee) toward a specific goal (Eby et al. 2007; NASEM 2017b).10 Mentorship—including sponsorship, peer mentorship, and tiered mentorship—is a common strategy used at MSIs to promote student success in the STEM fields. During its site visits, the committee observed deep investment in infrastructures, both formal and informal, that support effective mentoring of MSI student populations. Moreover, many students and alumni reported that mentoring received from faculty and administrators was integral to their success, in many instances citing them as “sponsors” who not only advised them, but also actively advocated on their behalf in ways that advanced their careers.11

Research has in fact shown that mentoring is particularly effective for students of color, citing the power of faculty-student bonds and the opportunities to explore and clarify students’ professional goals (Byars-Winston et al. 2015; Crawford et al. 1996). Faculty attitudes toward students can greatly impact student outcomes (Hubbard and Stage 2009), and the quality of faculty-student mentorship has great bearing on student achievement (Carlone and Johnson 2007). Findings from research conducted on a large national sample of students indicate that African American undergraduates at HBCUs have more sustained and personal interactions with faculty in developing their interests and skills in science than their counterparts at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) (Hurtado et al. 2011; Kim and Sax 2018).

In conjunction with a culture of faculty-student mentorship, faculty diversity can have a significant impact on STEM student success at MSIs (and indeed all institutions). Higher ratios of minority faculty in comprehensive institutions is positively associated with the number of students of color who pursue doctorates in the STEM fields (Hubbard and Stage 2010). Findings from a qualitative study of professors of color in STEM at PWIs reveal that mentorship played a significant role in their pursuit of academic attainment and long-term success in STEM fields, and that these experiences helped to shape the way they mentor contemporary cohorts of students of color in STEM (Griffin et al. 2010). While minority faculty should not take sole responsibility for mentoring students of color, they often serve as “institutional agents” (Stanton-Salazar 1997) or role models for their students, possessing an intrinsic ability to affirm and develop the talents that students of color bring to the STEM classroom (e.g., Museus et al. 2011).

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10 Of note, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine consensus study report on “The Science of Effective Mentoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine, and Mathematics (STEMM)” is scheduled for release in 2019.

11 See Hewlett (2013) for a larger discussion on sponsorship.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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To increase an institution’s capacity for effective mentorship, faculty and staff, particularly majority faculty and staff, could benefit from additional professional development. As an example, Xavier University’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development trains faculty to more effectively mentor and advise undergraduate students, especially those engaged in research. The center hosts faculty workshops to provide background in mentoring philosophy, mentor-mentee communication, goal and expectation setting, stereotype threat/implicit bias, issue identification and resolution, and best practices for good mentoring and advising. In addition, The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), a NIH-funded nationwide consortium of biomedical professionals and institutions, is another example of a structured resource with which MSIs can partner to increase their capacity for effective mentorship.12

The beneficial impacts of mentoring are often apparent in sustained and personalized faculty and peer mentoring throughout the undergraduate experience (Byars-Winston et al. 2015; Haeger and Fresquez 2016; Hurtado et al. 2017; NAS, NAE, and IOM 2011; Toven et al. 2015). Centers and other spaces where these relationships can be cultivated, such as peer-assisted study sections or specialized (e.g., by field or year in school) peer mentoring programs, are prevalent at MSIs (Conrad and Gasman 2015). This strength of peer mentoring, in particular, is likely due to a culture of students holding other students accountable for engaging in their education, which can be even more powerful than similar messages from faculty or administrators.

For example, Xavier University of Louisiana’s Peer Mentoring Program promotes academic success and persistence by pairing incoming freshmen with upperclassmen, and student mentors and mentees with faculty advisors. San Diego State University’s Aztec Mentoring Program established a joint partnership between the offices of Career Services and Alumni Engagement, and connects alumni and professional mentors with juniors, seniors, and graduate students. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Student Mentoring and Research Training (SMART) program provides graduate students the opportunity to serve as mentors to undergraduate students. During the fall semester, SMART mentors participate in professional development and mentoring workshops, and in the spring, they mentor and provide guidance to a project team composed of at least three undergraduate students. Formative evaluations are conducted throughout the program, and SMART mentors and project teams are required to complete a final poster presentation at an annual symposium. Institutionalized mentorship initiatives such as these show great promise in supporting sustained success for MSI students.

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12 See https://nrmnet.net/about-nrmn-2/ for more details on the NRMN, accessed July 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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Undergraduate Research Experiences

In the STEM fields, exposure to undergraduate research is one of the best predictors of degree completion and success in postgraduate education and careers. Research mentoring programs in STEM broadly call for the pairing of students on a one-on-one or very small group basis with a faculty member conducting research. This allows students to develop close relationships with faculty and see themselves as budding scientists. More holistic programs also provide students with professional development, academic and career counseling, graduate program application assistance, and other resources, in addition to research mentorship.

Evidence suggests that the two most effective components of undergraduate research experiences are (1) deep immersion into the culture of laboratory research that supports critical-thinking and communication skill enhancement, laboratory technical skill development, co-authoring publication(s), and attending a professional conference, and (2) participation in a sustained, rather than short-term, research experience (Russell et al. 2007; Thiry et al. 2011). Authentic research programs provide students opportunities to engage in research from beginning to end—identifying research problems, designing effective and efficient experiments, giving presentations about their work, co-authoring publications, and contributing findings to the longer-term questions being addressed by the faculty sponsor’s research laboratory (NASEM 2015a, 2017b).

Moreover, an engaged research faculty mentor is critical to promoting student success (Aikens et al. 2017; Byars-Winston et al. 2015; Carpi et al. 2013; Carpi et al. 2016; Daniels et al. 2016; Eagan et al. 2013; Maton et al. 2012; NASEM 2015a; Russell et al. 2007; Santiago 2007; Slovacek et al. 2012). Longstanding evidence suggests that undergraduate research, coupled with high-quality faculty engagement or mentoring, leads to the retention of students of color in STEM and promotes changes in self-efficacy and self-actualization that foster postgraduate STEM success (Byars-Winston et al. 2011; Chemers et al. 2011; Espinosa 2011; Hurtado et al. 2009; NASEM 2015a, 2017b; Ward et al. 2014).

The benefits of undergraduate research are clear. Specific examples of student success as a result of participation in undergraduate research include investment of more time and effort into students’ studies, increases in persistence and retention rates in STEM, and increases in grade-point averages and graduation rates (Barlow and Villarejo 2004; Espinosa 2011; Gregerman et al. 1998; Jones et al. 2010; Maton et al. 2000). Cognitive gains that contribute to self-efficacy, self-confidence, and intrinsic motivation to learn are further benefits (Carpi et al. 2017; Hunter et al. 2007; Lopatto 2007; Ryder et al. 1999; Seymour et al. 2004). Moreover, students gain valuable insight about the working world of science, including the day-to-day demands on scientists and the process and principles

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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of conducting research (Bauerand Bennett 2003; Crawford et al. 1996; Lopatto 2004; Russell et al. 2007; Seymour et al. 2004).

Other studies show that undergraduate research participants were more likely to pursue graduate education and gain acceptance into graduate school than non-researchers (Alexander et al. 1998; Alexander et al. 2000; Bauer and Bennett 2003; Crawford et al. 1996; Hathaway et al. 2002; Jones et al. 2010; Maton and Hrabowski 2004; Russell et al. 2007; Summers and Hrabowski 2006). A recent study from Carpi et al. (2017) also found a significant increase in postgraduate STEM enrollment specifically as a function of participation in research. These changes were linked to demographics and show the impact of an undergraduate research opportunity. While White and Asian students were more likely to already have postgraduate expectations at the onset of college, Black and Hispanic students were more likely to report changes in expectations toward increasing interest in postgraduate STEM education as a result of research participation.

Of the institutions visited by the committee, few had an infrastructure or formal policies in place to support undergraduate research experiences for students on or off campus. Several faculty members noted that they frequently need to “sponsor” students and turn to their own personal networks to organize and secure students’ research experiences. Some better-resourced and more research-focused MSI campuses (e.g., SDSU) do have undergraduate research programs in place, either through success at obtaining external funding or by dedicating internal resources to such programs. The Leadership Alliance, a consortium of leading research and teaching institutions that engages nearly 300 undergraduates in research experiences every year, was cited by some as a critical partner in ensuring that students were able to pursue research experiences, albeit on a different campus (Ghee et al. 2016; LaVallie et al. 2013). Partnerships with industry (as discussed later on in this chapter) also provide opportunities for research experiences.

The National Institutes of Health’s Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Program awards grants to increase biomedical research capacity through undergraduate research training and mentorship at institutions with less than $7.5 million in NIH funding and a student population of at least 25 percent Pell grant recipients (see Box 5-6). The initial phase of the program supported the development of experiments at 10 institutions in collaboration with research-intensive and pipeline institutions across the United States. The ASCEND program at Morgan State University in Baltimore is one of these 10 projects. An acronym for A Student Centered Entrepreneurship Development training model, ASCEND is designed to build a cadre of biomedical researchers who are familiar with the root causes of health disparities and are highly competent to address them see Box 5-7).

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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In addition to BUILD and LSAMP, a number of research programs are available to MSIs.13 However, they all require that MSIs have a sufficient infrastructure to implement the programs and compete effectively for scarce federal

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13 These programs include, but are not limited to: Maximizing Access to Research Careers Program Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research, Minority Biomedical Research Support Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

research dollars, a point further addressed in the section on partnerships below. Other federally funded research programs include the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO Programs and the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program. Again, MSIs must compete for these funds (against both MSIs and non-MSIs), and those that have the infrastructure necessary to craft competitive proposals and contracts are more likely to win the grants and contracts. Thus, an overriding priority for any MSI that seeks to create federally funded research opportunities for its students is to

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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consider how to build and sustain a campus system that enables it to successfully win research awards.

The Program for Research Initiatives in Science and Math (PRISM) at John Jay College, City University of New York, launched with federal funding in the early 2000s, is an example of what students of color at an MSI can accomplish through an undergraduate research program (Carpi et al. 2017). The concept began in 2001 with three students who received partial credit to conduct sustained, mentored research on campus, and support scientific conference travel; all three went on to successfully earn Ph.D.s, compared with just five John Jay undergraduate students in total over the previous decade. Over time, PRISM has grown to about 25 participants each year and provides stipends, conference support, professional development, and one-on-one mentoring to students. Some 80 students, more than half from underrepresented groups, have now moved on to postbaccalaureate STEM degrees. In one survey, more than two-thirds of students without previous intentions to pursue a postgraduate STEM degree credited their PRISM research experience with this new goal (Carpi et al. 2017). Also of note, PRISM has contributed to an increase in external funding for faculty research and other benefits to the institution (Carpi and Lents 2013; Carpi et al. 2017). Recognizing the impact of the program, the college has dedicated supportive resources and partially institutionalized the effort, including the hiring of a full-time Associate Director and investing in science laboratories.

As research experiences become more common and available, especially at top-tier research institutions, more graduate and professional-degree programs expect that their applicants have such experience, regardless of their undergraduate college. This expectation disadvantages students who attend nonresearch institutions or have limited or no access to research opportunities. These programs are arguably necessary, but many MSIs are insufficiently resourced, in terms of available financial support and laboratory infrastructure, to offer high-quality research experiences to students. This compounds the disadvantages to STEM students of color at MSIs, by excluding them from the research training needed to succeed in graduate school or the workforce. Carpi et al. (2017, p. 190) state, “Thus, while the trend toward undergraduate participation in research may benefit the state of science education nationally, there is an inherent danger of exacerbating current disparities in minority representation if care is not taken to support these experiences at institutions that may not presently be able to afford them.” The committee identified a lack of opportunity for authentic, high-quality undergraduate research at MSIs as a very significant concern—and targeted its recommendations at securing additional resources, including funding, to address this shortcoming.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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Mutually Beneficial Public-Private Partnerships

A public-private partnership typically involves a contractual agreement between a public agency (federal, state, or local) and a private entity (Farquharson et al. 2011). Partnerships, as described here, are further characterized by MSIs partnering with the private sector, with nonprofit organizations, or with other higher education institutions. Some successful partnerships are formal relationships, while others start informally, perhaps by a faculty member with ties to a nearby business or government agency or with alumni who reconnect with their alma mater.

The past few decades have seen the growth of STEM-related partnerships between academia and government agencies at all levels, with for-profit businesses spanning Fortune 500 companies to local businesses and start-ups, and with nonprofits ranging from community organizations to those with a global reach. The most successful partnerships appear to be those that have a clear mission and meaningful roles and responsibilities through which all parties benefit. For MSIs, partnerships can provide alternative mechanisms for securing education and research funding, increasing capacity, and expanding their network, while broadening STEM educational opportunities for students and faculty and supporting their transition into the STEM workforce (Parthenon-EY Education 2017; Perkmann et al. 2013). Federal and state agencies benefit when a partnership allows them to tap into new research and innovative thinking, achieve greater efficiency completing tasks and requirements, save taxpayer dollars, improve the quality of services and products, train the future workforce, and support the prosperity of the nation. Businesses look to partnerships to enhance specific enterprises (such as using a company’s own laboratories and research and development (R&D) centers, or identifying talent for recruitment) and increase intellectual property. Most profit-driven companies base their decision making on financial metrics; thus, to be sustainable for the long term, partnerships must provide benefits beyond engaging in philanthropy or public relations to include short- or long-term returns on investment. Nonprofits, including STEM professional societies, provide networking opportunities that strengthen job prospects for students, who may ultimately contribute to the vitality of the organization as members. For other nonprofit organizations, partnering with MSIs can help achieve goals such as increasing opportunities and access for people from historically underrepresented populations.

The committee faced challenges when identifying an evidence base for successful or promising public and private partnerships and their outcomes. This lack of evidence may be due to the informality of some of these partnerships or a lack of clear outcome assessments and reporting. The examples of partnerships highlighted below demonstrate the promise of mutual benefit. In particular, they highlight the opportunity for MSI students to have access to stronger, more rigorous, and more relevant research experiences, noted in the previous section as an important component for STEM success.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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While MSIs can be a prime resource for partnerships, they often lack the capacity to effectively market themselves for highly competitive ventures. Generally speaking, MSIs’ Offices of Sponsored Programs, if in place, are limited in terms of staff, knowledge of government acquisition processes, resources for marketing and compliance, and ability to influence faculty to pursue research grants and contracts (Pickens 2010). However, as indicated by the programs highlighted throughout this chapter, there is much to learn from the nimbleness of certain MSIs and their ability to be flexible and responsive to new opportunities.

To explore these new avenues for funding and educational opportunities for STEM students, an institutional culture change needs to occur. Building new infrastructure, prioritizing leadership training and professional development for faculty and staff, and embracing modern ways of thinking all must happen for successful implementation of these partnerships. (The committee’s recommendations for new and expanded partnerships with MSIs are presented in Chapter 6.)

Illustrative Examples of Partnership with MSIs

Government Partnerships

The federal government, which funds the preponderance of STEM opportunities for MSIs, uses a wide range of procurement mechanisms (e.g., contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, etc.) to establish partnerships with extramural research entities that align with federal agency priorities. (See Table 5-1 for brief descriptions of available mechanisms for partnerships with government agencies.) Federal agencies that have established relationships with MSIs include (but are not limited to) the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), NIH, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NSF, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Education.

NASA, for example, utilizes multiple funding mechanisms to establish strategic partnerships with MSIs. NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Activity Project (MUREP) awards multiyear grants and cooperative agreements to MSIs to enhance the institutions’ research, academic, and technology capabilities, and to provide authentic STEM engagement related to the NASA mission.14 One such initiative is the MUREP STEM Engagement (MSE) portfolio. The goal of the MSE portfolio is to increase the retention and completion rates of undergraduate degrees awarded in NASA-related STEM disciplines. Through MSE, NASA conducts educator institutes at its 10 centers and offers professional development for MSIs. NASA’s most recent MUREP initiative,

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14 Education Performance Reports FY 2014, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, https://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/murep/about/index.html, accessed July 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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TABLE 5-1 Types of Mechanisms Available for Collaborative Research Partnerships

Type of Agreement Agreement or Mechanism Primary Purpose
Research Partnership Agreements Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) Contract for collaborative research (e.g., production of commercial technologies). Provides opportunities for faculty and students to conduct high-level research in top-tier federal laboratories and participate in contractual science and technology programs
Nontraditional CRADA CRADA tailored for specialized purposes (e.g. clinical trial partnerships, materials transfer)
Cooperative Agreement Used for collaborative research projects that are exploratory in nature
Collaborative Research/Technology Alliance (CRA/CTA) A special form of cooperative agreement that emphasizes multidisciplinary collaboration and often combines government, industry, and university partners
Resource-Use Agreements Commercial Test Agreement Allows partners to test materials, equipment, models, or software using government laboratory equipment
Test Service Agreement Allows partners to purchase testing services for materials, equipment, models, or software from government laboratories
User Facilities Agreement Enables partners to conduct research experiments on unique government laboratory equipment and facilities.
Personnel Exchange Agreements Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignments Used for exchanges of federal laboratory and university personnel
Joint appointments Allows university or federal laboratory personnel to be employed at multiple institutions
Educational Agreements Educational Partnership Agreements Used to allow government laboratories and universities to work together to develop educational programs that further both partners’ missions
Fellowship, Internship, and Sabbatical Leave Programs A variety of mechanisms available for students and research professors, including summer internships and fellowships and faculty leave programs
Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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Type of Agreement Agreement or Mechanism Primary Purpose
Other Partnership Agreements University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) Long-term partnerships that create a university-led research center to meet the Department of Defense’s needs
Centers of Excellence An Air Force mechanism that is similar to that of the UARC
Other Transaction Authority Provides authorized agencies the flexibility to fund research and development projects without the terms, conditions, and regulations that accompany typical contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs SBIR and STTR provide federal research and development funding to small business or nonprofit research institutions

SOURCE: Adapted from Gupta et al. 2014.

MUREP for Sustainability and Innovation Collaborative,15 is a two-year cooperative agreement that offers workshops for teams of MSIs and nonprofit organizations to help establish a sustainable infrastructure and build their capacity to be competitive for federal funds and, in particular, NASA grants and contracts. Another initiative, the MUREP Institutional Research Opportunities (MIRO) program is an agency-wide higher education activity that engages underrepresented populations.16 MIRO was established to strengthen and develop the research capacity and infrastructure of MSIs in areas of strategic importance and to add value to NASA’s mission and national priorities.

Certain federal agencies have the authority to maintain partnership programs for MSIs. For example, NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities fosters collaborations between MSIs and medical- and/or research-based organizations through its Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program.17 NASA, as another example, has an agency-wide goal of 1 percent of all total contract value of prime and subcontracting awards for acquisitions

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15 See https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/viewrepositorydocument/cmdocumentid%3D614506/solicitationId%3D%7B60093581-F392-DAED-9821-67D191A898C4%7D/viewSolicitationDocument%3D1/EONS%202018%20APPENDIX%20H_MUSIC_Ammended%203-13-18.pdf, accessed October 2018.

16 See https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/2014_miro_508.pdf, accessed October 2018.

17 See https://www.nimhd.nih.gov/programs/extramural/coe/rcmi.html, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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to HBCUs/MSIs (approximately $160 million), which represents a significant opportunity for institutions to participate on NASA contracts.18 Other agencies, such as the General Services Administration and the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, have launched efforts to enhance MSI competitiveness for federal research and development awards, and through training and funding opportunities plan to support MSI-public agency partnerships, Mentor Protégé programs, career development, and STEM entrepreneurship.19 NOAA has established the Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions, a federal STEM education workforce program,20 and more recently, the U.S. Department of the Army’s Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center has launched the MSI STEM Research & Development Consortium (MSRDC)21 (see Box 5-8 for an additional description of MSRDC). Other areas of opportunity for federal agencies and MSIs to partner are in large-scale, collaborative ventures, such as University Affiliated Research Centers or Federal Funded Research & Development Centers.22 These centers exist at major institutions of higher education, and the potential for MSIs to lead or serve a greater role in these partnerships could be further explored.

The establishment of these types of federal programs provides important opportunities to address national research priorities and at the same time promote success at MSIs (NRC 2014). Overall, however, there are only scattered examples of federal agencies that have made intentional efforts to establish MSIs as leading members of government-funded research partnerships. A large portion of the nation’s MSIs do not engage in high levels of research activity, and typically federal investments are geared toward training programs rather than research grants or contracts. This may be due, in part, to the language used in federal Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs). BAAs are competitive solicitations issued by federal agencies to inform industry and academia of available funding opportunities for basic and applied research, and development ideas. BAAs do not include specific incentives, mandates, or effective measurements of MSI participation, and without this language few agencies have championed for the inclusion of the MSI community. Given that sponsoring agencies have points of authority to articulate interest for greater MSI inclusion (particularly during the procurement planning process), herein lies an opportunity to foster MSI participation in federal programs and build research capacity in measurable ways. The use of incentives in evaluation criteria and subcontracting goals, and procurement language that

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18 See https://osbp.nasa.gov/hbcu-mi/index.html, accessed October 2018.

19 See https://www.mbda.gov/page/2018-mbda-broad-agency-announcement and https://osbp.nasa.gov/docs/event-presentations/2018_02/speaker/1345_GSA-and-DON_Networking-FederalAgencies-panel-TAGGED.pdf, accessed October 2018.

20 See https://www.noaa.gov/office-education/epp-msi, accessed October 2018.

21 See https://www.msrdconsortium.org/about/, accessed October 2018.

22 See https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/ and http://acqnotes.com/acqnote/industry/urac, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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emphasizes inclusion, could lead to increased opportunities for MSIs to secure federal grants and contracts, as prime or subrecipients.

In addition to the language in BAAs, over the course of the committee’s site visits, a number of other barriers to establishing MSI and federal research partnerships were revealed. First, complex bureaucratic processes and time-intensive tasks place an enormous burden on already resource-challenged MSIs, as compared to PWIs and/or research-intensive institutions that often have dedicated staff or offices to manage these processes. A second barrier is unfamiliarity with

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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MSI-specific federal research grants, programs, and contracted research opportunities, as described earlier. Moreover, MSIs without proven track records in demonstrating their ability to implement and manage grants or contracts may be at a competitive disadvantage for funding compared with institutions that have established such credentials.

As already noted, this deficit in the ability for many MSIs to successfully compete for and secure large federal grants and contracts results in fewer opportunities for their faculty and students, as compared to PWIs, to participate in state-of-the-art research or secure work experiences in areas of science, engineering, and medicine. This, in turn, affects MSI students’ marketability in the 21st-cen-tury career marketplace. As such, there are important areas primed for stakeholder investment and support. These include efforts to (1) increase MSI knowledge of and participation in the federal budgeting and planning process and (2) foster relationships between MSI faculty and grants office officials with agency leaders and program officers to help bridge the knowledge gaps pertaining to agencies’ research priorities and relevant partnership opportunities. Partnerships between MSIs and academic, research, or industry stakeholders—stakeholders with a larger, more established network within the federal research community—could facilitate MSI success in these areas.23

Given the nation’s urgent need to expand its domestic STEM-capable workforce and the poised position of MSIs as a national resource for STEM talent (see Chapter 2 for additional discussion), substantial increases in the number and type of MSI-specific public-private partnerships could help to bolster domestic achievements in STEM. However, as discussed in Chapter 4, to support the advancement and growth of MSI-specific public-private partnerships, it is important to obtain a clear profile on the current federally funded initiatives at MSIs and their return on investment for the institutions, students, and STEM workforce. Efforts to enhance the clarity, transparency, and accountability for all STEM-focused federal appropriations available to MSIs could inform future partnership initiatives and help to determine which are most needed, underfunded, or unexplored. (See Chapter 6 for the committee’s recommendation to Congress on this issue.)

Business Partnerships

Private-sector partnerships include opportunities for MSI student scholarships, paid workforce experiences, internships, and/or mentorships that focus on

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23 As an example of ongoing efforts to address this need, in 2018 the DoD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Army Research Laboratory, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine co-hosted two one-day, no-cost workshops for MSIs. The goal of the workshops was to increase MSI knowledge of DoD research priorities and budget processes, foster relations between MSI faculty and program managers, and to spur research engagement.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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student and faculty development. These partnerships can also support positive engagement with the MSI leadership, faculty, and students, and as described later, influence the institution’s STEM curriculum. These initiatives could have lasting effects, provided that aggressive and intentional steps are taken by both industry and MSIs to nurture and grow such partnerships (Burge et al. 2017).

National partnerships. Companies such as Intel, Google, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Apple, Facebook, Airbnb, Salesforce, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard have launched STEM initiatives and supplier diversity programs focused on promoting a diverse workforce. Some of these initiatives include partnerships with MSIs, but there is an opportunity to do more. In February 2018, Congresswoman Alma Adams (Democrat, North Carolina) and Congressman Bradley Byrne (Republican, Alabama), co-chairs of the Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus, helped to launch a HBCU Partnership Challenge to the private sector. This challenge opens an opportunity for businesses to create, expand, or strengthen partnerships with HBCUs, to provide greater engagement and support for their missions. Based on current reports, industry partners that have accepted this challenge include Amazon, Intel, Regions Bank, Dell, Inc., GM Financial, Nielsen, Pandora, AnitaB.org, and Volvo Group North America.24 Similar efforts across all MSI types could have a substantial impact on the STEM education and outcomes of success for students.

As an example of industry initiatives, in 2017, Boeing pledged to invest $300 million in employees, infrastructure, and local communities to advance the skillset of current employees and to help develop and diversify the future STEM workforce. As part of this pledge, Boeing plans to invest $6 million in a partnership with Thurgood Marshall College Fund and several HBCUs, as well as an investment of $11 million in a partnership with NSF.25 In 2013, Google launched a program called Google in Residence (GIR) at Howard University (a HBCU) (Washington et al. 2015). Now at 10 HBCUs, this program was designed to increase the interest and retention of underrepresented students in computer science disciplines, and to reform computer science and coding programs at HBCUs to meet industry needs (Google 2018; Washington et al. 2015). In fall 2018, GIR plans to expand its program to three additional schools, including two HSIs (Google 2018).

The Northrup Grumman Corporation and Northrop Grumman Foundation also channel support to MSIs through a number of different avenues. For ex-

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24 Based on the most recent data available, the Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus is comprised of 72 bipartisan members of Congress. For more information, see https://adams.house.gov/bipartisan-historically-black-colleges-and-universities-hbcu-caucus, accessed September 2018.

25 For more information, see https://www.tmcf.org/tmcf-in-the-news/boeing-announces-6-millioninvestment-in-thurgood-marshall-college-fund/14475 and http://boeing.mediaroom.com/newsreleases-statements?item=130293, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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ample, Northrup Grumman supports the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Integrated Pipeline Program, a program that provides engineering students at Florida A&M, Howard, and North Carolina A&T State (all HBCUs) with scholarships, internships, and year-round academic and professional development support.26 Elsewhere in the company, the Global Supplier Diversity Program aims to expand subcontracting opportunities to small business concerns, including HBCUs and other minority institutions, and participates in DoD’s Mentor-Protégé agreement to assist small businesses in competing for prime contracts and subcontracts.27 Northrup Grumman, S&K Electronics (a company located on the Flathead Reservation and owned by the confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes), and Salish Kootenai College have partnered through this program to offer training and certifications to bolster S&K Electronics’ ability to manage processes, equipment, and technology.28

Regional partnerships. MSI partnerships with regional businesses provide additional opportunities to promote student success. For example, West LA College and the South Bay Workforce Investment Board have developed the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship Program, an employer-driven engineering framework.29 Partnering employers have the flexibility to customize the curriculum, receive funding to support training and recruitment, and have access to a pool of talented job seekers. The program consists of work readiness training, industry-specific skills training, and on-the-job learning. Students receive an industry-recognized stack-able credential, and the opportunity to complete college, enter into an apprenticeship, or continue to employment. Membership with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is also included, providing access to SME mentor programs and scholarships.

As another example, STEM Core is a partnership model implemented at 14 community colleges in California to prepare students for STEM jobs. The program at Mission College offers accelerated mathematics and engineering courses combined with other academic resources and provides opportunities to compete for paid summer internships at Silicon Valley companies. Mission College also supports the MESA Community College Program (MESA CCP) (part the MESA Undergraduate Program described in Box 5-9), which supports STEM students’ transition from community college to four-year institutions.30 One of

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26 For more information, see http://www.nsbe.org/NGFIPP/home/about-the-program.aspx, accessed September 2018.

27 For more information, see http://www.northropgrumman.com/suppliers/Pages/GSDP.aspx, accessed October 2018.

28 For more information, see https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/releases-20171205, accessed October 2018.

29 For more information, see https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b8c0dc_10e2bae72a9441c19ab6af87a6858571.pdf, accessed October 2018.

30 For more information, see http://mesa.ucop.edu/program/mesa-community-college-program/, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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panies such as Oracle, the Southern California Gas Company, PG&E, Symantec, and Cisco.31

Local and community partnerships. In areas of the country where MSIs have few national industry partners nearby, local communities and industries play an important role in providing career-related experiences to students. One such example involves the UTRGV-Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center’s Lean

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31 For more information, see https://mesa.ucop.edu/partner-sponsors/industry-partners/, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

Sigma Academy, in which students work on projects with local industries and obtain an industry-recognized certification.32 Another example is the South Texas College’s Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator initiative, which aligns student curriculum, engagement and learning activities, and faculty instruction with regional STEM workforce needs.33 These types of initiatives help to establish an active and mutually beneficial partnership between institutions and local STEM employers, as well as to provide unique opportunities for service learning and community engagement projects.

MSI-Government-Industry Partnerships

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are examples of U.S. public-private partnerships. SBIR and STTR were established to provide federal research and development funding to small business or nonprofit research institutions. Awarded contracts (or subcontracts) to MSIs could stimulate the long-term growth of the institutions’ current STEM portfolios.

SBIR and STTR programs have a mutual objective to foster and encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation (NASEM 2015b). However, based on the 2015 U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBIR/STTR annual report, only 8 percent of total SBIR obligations were awarded to Women-Owned Small Business Concerns, 3.5 percent to Socially or Economically Disadvantaged-Owned Small Business Concerns, and 2 percent to Historically Underrepresented Business-Certified Small Business Concerns (U.S. Small Business Administration 2015). These data suggest that strategic efforts are needed to help identify and address the programmatic challenges that may be uniquely specific to these populations. (See Box 5-10 for additional discussion.)

Non-MSI and MSI Partnerships

Partnerships between MSIs and between MSIs and non-MSIs enable institutions to pool their resources, share knowledge, and build community (Esters et al. 2016). The prevalence of these partnerships has increased in recent years in part due to funding from federal agencies, national foundations, and other funders eager to see more cross-institutional partnerships. For example, the Lumina Foundation recently sponsored a project titled “Building Student Success Knowledge Infrastructures Collaboratively” led by a partnership between Prairie View

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32 For more information, see https://www.utrgv.edu/tmac/services/more-services/index.htm, accessed October 2018.

33 For more information, see https://www.southtexascollege.edu/grants/trsda/, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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A&M and the University of Texas-El Paso.34 The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, VentureWell, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the

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34 For more information, see https://hbculifestyle.com/collaborating-black-colleges/, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
×

United Negro College Fund have come together to sponsor an initiative called the HBCU Collaborative. The collaborative is a cohort of 15 HBCUs participating in a multiyear project to encourage the creation of more government and industry partnerships to foster innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship.35 The NIH-funded BUILD program also is set up to facilitate collaboration and partnerships among research-intensive and pipeline institutions. (See Box 5-8 for additional details on this program.) Characteristic of sustainable partnerships more generally, both types of institutions should see benefit for themselves and their students in order for the collaborations to thrive.

Nonprofit and Disciplinary/Professional Society Partnerships

Nonprofit organizations and professional, scientific, or honor societies can serve as advocates for MSIs and their students in a number of capacities, including their ability to connect them with local, regional, and national employers. Partnerships between advocacy organizations, MSIs, and the STEM workforce help to establish new scholarships, cooperative educational opportunities, and/or employment after graduation. At the very least, these partnerships may help to encourage students’ continued participation in STEM fields. Examples include efforts of the NSBE, as described previously, and Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering, a nonprofit organization invested in helping establish and expand alliances with government, industry, and academic partners to support programs that advance minorities’ interest in engineering.36

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) is an example of a membership organization that represents colleges and universities committed to improving access to and the quality of postsecondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students.37 HACU serves as an advocate for HSIs and their stakeholders on regional-, state-, and federal-level issues, conducts public policy analyses and research on matters that impact higher educational success for Hispanic students, hosts technical assistance workshops on available federal grant and capacity-building opportunities, and offers numerous internships, scholarships, college support programs, and career development opportunities for HSI students.

The American Indian College Fund (AICF) aims to boost Native American college completion rates through scholarships, research, and advocacy.38 Scholarship recipients are encouraged to remain connected to the fund and to each other through the Circle of Scholars alumni program. AICF also recognizes the need to communicate with funders and policy makers by strengthening data collection

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35 For more information, see http://www.aplu.org/projects-and-initiatives/access-and-diversity/hbcu-innovation-commercialization-and-entrepreneurship/index.html, accessed October 2018.

36 For more information, see https://www.amiepartnerships.org/, accessed October 2018.

37 For more information, see https://www.hacu.net/hacu/HACU_101.asp, accessed October 2018.

38 For more information, see https://collegefund.org/about-us/, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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and analysis on American Indian student progress, including their fields of study, graduation rates, and representation at different colleges and universities.

The SDSU Research Foundation (SDSURF) illustrates another example of a university-nonprofit partnership. SDSURF is a nonprofit, auxiliary organization dedicated to assisting and advancing the research mission of SDSU through the administration of grants and contracts. As a tax-exempt organization, SDSURF has additional flexibility to raise and manage private funds that can be invested in a more diversified, and less restricted, manner. SDSURF supports the educational, research, and community service objectives of SDSU by developing faculty researchers, procuring new research opportunities, and engaging students in research projects, with the ultimate goal of increasing the overall research project portfolio.39

Private foundations represent another area of engagement for MSIs. Administrators from several of the committee’s site visits spoke about building strategic relationships with organizations that see the value of diversifying the future workforce and who are launching initiatives to help achieve this goal, including the American Indian Policy Institute, the Carnegie Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, to name a few.

CHAPTER SUMMARY

The committee commissioned a literature search, conducted site visits, and sought other input to determine evidence-based strategies that support STEM students of color at MSIs. However, this proved a challenge, with self-reported data, surveys, and case studies the most frequently found when any evaluations took place at all. A lack of programmatic evaluations may be a consequence of several factors, including insufficient programmatic funds, overall lack of resources, personnel, and capacity, and the overall challenge to evaluate long-standing national programs as a collective. Funders and policy makers understandably seek this evidence when making resource and other decisions, leading the committee to conclude that building this knowledge base is a priority that merits a recommendation. (See Chapter 6 for the committee’s recommendations to public and private funders to support the evaluation of MSIs and the effective strategies and promising programs they use to support their students.)

The evidence that does exist led the committee to identify intentionality as an important element of MSI success: ensuring that programs, practices, and policies are tailored to recognize and address student needs with cultural awareness. Students of color, particularly those in STEM fields, benefit from strategies grounded in intentionality and that enhance mission-driven leadership, promote institutional responsiveness, offer a culturally supportive campus climate, pro-

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39 For more information, see https://www.foundation.sdsu.edu/about_index.html, accessed October 2018.

Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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vide easily accessible academic and student supports, offer sustained mentorship and sponsorship, create authentic research experiences, and seek opportunities through partnerships with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The committee’s recommendations to support current and bolster future efforts to implement these strategies are presented in Chapter 6.

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AIR (American Institutes for Research). 2012. Broadening Participation in STEM: A Call to Action. Available at: https://www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/Broadening_Participation_in_STEM_Feb14_2013_0.pdf. Accessed September 2018.

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Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Promising Strategies That Contribute to STEM Student Success." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25257.
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There are over 20 million young people of color in the United States whose representation in STEM education pathways and in the STEM workforce is still far below their numbers in the general population. Their participation could help re-establish the United States’ preeminence in STEM innovation and productivity, while also increasing the number of well-educated STEM workers.

There are nearly 700 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that provide pathways to STEM educational success and workforce readiness for millions of students of color—and do so in a mission-driven and intentional manner. They vary substantially in their origins, missions, student demographics, and levels of institutional selectivity. But in general, their service to the nation provides a gateway to higher education and the workforce, particularly for underrepresented students of color and those from low-income and first-generation to college backgrounds. The challenge for the nation is how to capitalize on the unique strengths and attributes of these institutions and to equip them with the resources, exceptional faculty talent, and vital infrastructure needed to educate and train an increasingly critical portion of current and future generations of scientists, engineers, and health professionals.

Minority Serving Institutions examines the nation’s MSIs and identifies promising programs and effective strategies that have the highest potential return on investment for the nation by increasing the quantity and quality MSI STEM graduates. This study also provides critical information and perspective about the importance of MSIs to other stakeholders in the nation’s system of higher education and the organizations that support them.

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