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Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE)
Effects of Differential Tuition on Low-Income Undergraduate Students in Engineering (2011)
Authors: Casey George-Jackson, Blanca Rincon, and Mariana Garcia
This paper explores the relationship between tuition differentials and low-income students in Engineering fields at two large, public, research-intensive universities. Although current reports indicate the need for increased participation within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, rising tuition prices at the university and program levels may deter low-income students to enter and persist within STEM, specifically Engineering. The findings reveal that increased costs due to tuition differentials policies are offset by financial aid, lowering the overall net price students pay. In addition, receiving a Pell Grant improves the odds of completing a degree in Engineering, suggesting that efforts to improve underrepresented students’ participation in Engineering should focus on initial recruitment to these fields.
Funding STEM Intervention Programs: Money Speaks Louder than Words (2010)
Authors: Blanca Rincon, Casey George-Jackson, Montrischa Williams, Kimberly Walker, Lorenzo Baber, & William Trent
This paper examines the relationship between higher education institutions and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) intervention programs that promote diversity within STEM fields. Specifically, this paper aims to explore institutional commitment to diversity by focusing on funding priorities of colleges, universities, and departments, particularly during periods of economic downturn. To investigate institutional funding of STEM Intervention Programs (SIPs), funding sources and long-term financial sustainability are investigated through forty-seven semi-structured interviews conducted with program directors and administrators at ten large, public, research universities. The findings reveal that without institutional funding, many SIPs struggle to secure corporate and private funding, which in turn threatens the existence of some programs. The findings also suggest that as institutions are forced to tighten their budgets, funding priorities do not usually include STEM-related interventions that seek to serve underrepresented students, including women, minorities, first generation, and low-income students. As a result, intervention programs are forced to reduce or eliminate services provided to underrepresented students. Reduced funding not only affects the scope and nature of services provided by SIPs, but may indirectly result in fewer underrepresented STEM students entering such majors or persisting in STEM to graduation, potentially impacting the diversity of STEM graduate degree programs and the STEM workforce. These findings have great implications given the nation’s need for an increase in the number of STEM degrees awarded to domestic students in order to ensure economic and global competitiveness.
STEM Intervention Programs: The Shift from Opportunity to Merit (2010)
Authors: Kimberly Walker, Casey George-Jackson, Blanca Rincon, Montrischa Williams, Lorenzo Baber, & William Trent
This paper seeks to highlight the process of shifting missions and guiding ideologies of intervention programs designed for and targeted towards underrepresented, undergraduate students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at large, public, research-intensive universities. This study draws upon qualitative data through semi-structured interviews conducted with 47 STEM intervention program directors and administrators. The findings reveal that with changes in the political economy of higher education, providing access and opportunities to historically marginalized populations has diminished in importance, while institutions’ return on investment and measured diversity has taken precedence in recent years. Programs that were originally created to provide and expand opportunities in the sciences are now rewarding merit and are accepting fewer students based on increasingly rigorous selection criteria. As a result, the number of students who participate in, and benefit from these intervention programs has declined alongside this ideological shift. We argue that students accepted to participate in such programs based on measures of merit are high-achieving students who are likely to succeed in the STEM fields without participation in intervention programs, while students who would likely benefit and may not succeed on their own are underserved. The priorities and commitment to diversity of institutions offering these programs that have undergone such changes are critiqued.
Underrepresented Students Entering STEM Fields (2008)
Authors: Casey E. George-Jackson, Gregory S. Kienzl, & William T. Trent
This study will examine the factors that determine the choice of initial college major of first- time women, minorities, and low-income undergraduate students at a large, research-intensive, public university in fall 1999. Of interest is the selection into a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) major and, of particular interest, whether these factors are common across all types of STEM and non-STEM majors. The use of an expanded taxonomy of STEM majors demonstrate that underrepresented students participate at higher rates in science-oriented fields rather than more prestigious STEM fields as compared to their participation using a more narrow definition of STEM. Nested logistic regression is used to estimate key factors considered in this study. The results of this study will contribute to institutional effectiveness by identifying possible admittance patterns and/or impediments to educational and diversity goals. Policy improvements are offered based on the results to satisfy both these goals.
American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Academic Engagement of Undergraduate Students Majoring in STEM
Authors: Derek A. Houston and Casey E. George-Jackson
Research on the educational outcomes of students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) continues to be needed given the persistent underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields. Prior research has determined that academic engagement is a predictor of student academic success and persistence within higher education. However, little research has been conducted on underrepresented students’ academic engagement within STEM. Using the results of surveys administered at ten large, public, research universities, the authors examine the relationships between academic engagement, gender, race/ethnicity, and students’ major, with specific attention given to underrepresented students in STEM. The findings suggest that women and students of color in STEM fields have similar levels of academic engagement and, for some measures, have higher levels of academic engagement than that of majority students in STEM fields. The findings provide a basis for understanding academic engagement patterns of underrepresented students in STEM, while also informing programmatic interventions that seek to serve women and students of color in STEM.
Underrepresented Students in STEM: An Examination of Departmental Climate (2011)
Authors: Blanca Rincon and Casey E. George-Jackson
This paper seeks to examine underrepresented undergraduate students‘ experiences within the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). For the purpose of this paper, underrepresented students within STEM include women and traditionally underrepresented minority students. Specifically, this paper focuses on factors of department climate that may contribute to underrepresented students‘ experiences within STEM majors.Although enrollment for minority and female students in higher education has increased substantially over the years, little progress has been made within the STEM fields. Furthermore retention rates for underrepresented students continue to be dismal in a time when an increase in STEM degrees is necessary in order to ensure the nation‘s global economic future. This study seeks to examine non-academic factors specifically departmental climate—that may influence student retention in the STEM fields. To investigate undergraduate students‘ experiences, an online student survey was launched at nine large, public, research institutions. The finding ssuggest that there are subtle but significant differences in regards to departmental climate perceptions by gender and type of STEM field; substantial and significant differences by race/ethnicity and type of STEM field; and significant differences at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender for minority males.
Considering the Role of Gender in Developing a Science Identity: Undergraduate Students in STEM Fields at Large, Public, Research Universities (2011)
Authors: Montrischa M. Williams, Casey E. George-Jackson, Lorenzo Baber, & Williams. T. Trent
This study investigated the extent to which male and female students in STEM fields at large, public, research universities develop a science identity. The study draws upon online survey results of 1,881 undergraduate students. The survey included measures that assessed a student’s sense of identity as a scientist and perceived self-efficacy. Recognizing that male and female students may report identifying as a scientist and self-efficacy levels differently by major, comparisons are made between respondents who majored in the following STEM fields: 1) Physical Science, Computer Science, Math and Engineering (PSCSME); 2) Agricultural and Biological Sciences (ABS); and 3) Health Sciences and Psychology (HSP). Results revealed that gender differences exist between male and females in science identity as well as perceived self-efficacy. Science identity is impacted by students using and doing science, rather than by self-efficacy. Findings from the study may be used to inform programs and practices that aim to strengthen students’ science identity. With this in mind, practices such as positive feedback along with effective teaching styles, and grading could be influential approaches to creating an environment where students have the ability to establish a skill set and knowledge within science related fields and can contribute to helping students develop a science identity.
Underrepresented Undergraduates’ Persistence in STEM Fields (2009)
Authors: Gregory S. Kienzl, Casey E. George-Jackson, & William T. Trent
This study uses longitudinal data from three, large public research universities in the Midwest to better understand the educational outcomes of women and minority students as they move through the STEM pipeline. Descriptive statistics and conditional probabilities analysis offer insight into differential rates of persistence and degree attainment in the STEM fields.
Underrepresented Students Entering STEM Fields (2009)
Authors: Gregory S. Kienzl, Casey E. George-Jackson, & William T. Trent
This study will examine the factors that explain the matriculation of first-time women and minority undergraduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields at three large, research-intensive, public universities. Specifically, the following questions will be addressed: What factors influence students’ entrance into the STEM fields? and How might patterns of students opting in differ within STEM fields? These questions are explored using descriptive statistics and nested logistic regression models with socio-demographic characteristics, pre-college academic qualifications and financial attributes included as explanatory variables. The results of this study will help contribute to institutional effectiveness by identifying potential mismatches in the initial choice of college major and offering policy improvements that satisfy both educational and diversity goals.
College Conﬁdence: How Sure High School Students Are of Their Future Majors
Authors: Casey E. George-Jackson and Eric Lichtenberger
This study examines high school students' confidence in their planned college major with an emphasis on students planning to study one of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The study draws on responses from the ACT Student Interest Inventory of the Illinois High School Class of 2003, which asks students about their educational and occupational plans. Analysis of 75,698 responses revealed important differences by gender, race/ethnicity, and type of planned major. When examining high school juniors' confidence in their planned college major, distinct differenct were found between different groups of students and majors. Namely: women were more confident in their planned college major than men, African American students were more confident in their planned college major than students from other racial and ethnic backgrounds, and low-income students, from families that mades less than $30,000 per year, were more confident in their planned major than students from higher income backgrounds.
Establishing Legitimacy among STEM Intervention Programs: The Need for Evaluation
Authors: Casey E. George-Jackson and Blanca Rincon
Intervention programs designed to improve undergraduate students’ participation and success in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields exist in colleges and universities throughout the United States. These programs seek to attract and retain traditionally underrepresented students including women and minorities through supplemental services including tutoring, mentoring, research, and social support networks. This study examines the extent to which such programs conduct evaluations of their program or services, and how evaluations impact the legitimacy of intervention programs. Drawing upon interview data with 55 program directors and administrators at ten large, public, research universities, the findings suggest that many programs rely on anecdotal information to inform program changes due to financial and human resource constraints. The results also suggest a relationship between programs that do conduct evaluations and their long-term sustainability, ability to garner support from upper-level administrators and secure recurring funding, all of which impact the program’s legitimacy. These findings have significant implications given the current economic climate, institutional cutbacks and reduction of services, and the need to increase the number of STEM degrees granted, particularly to underrepresented students. Recommendations, such as partnering with other departments and colleges to conduct evaluations, are offered.
Rethinking the Stem Fields: The Importance of Definitions in Examining Women's Participation and Success in the Sciences (2009)
Author: Casey E. George-Jackson
This study uses longitudinal data of undergraduate students from five public land-grant universities to better understand undergraduate students’ persistence in and switching of majors, with particular attention given to women’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Specifically, the study examines patterns of behavior of women and minorities in relation to initial choice of college major and major field persistence, as well as what majors students switched to upon changing majors. Factors that impact major field persistence are also examined, as well as how switching majors affects students’ time-to-degree. Using a broad definition of STEM, data from nearly 17,000 undergraduate students was analyzed with descriptive statistics, cross tabulations, and binary logistic regressions. The results highlight women’s high levels of participation and success in the sciences, challenging common notions of underrepresentation in the STEM fields. The study calls for researchers to use a comprehensive definition of STEM and broad measurements of persistence when investigating students’ participation in the STEM fields.
Exploring Intergenerational Influences on First-Generation College Students
Author: Casey E. George-Jackson
In Fall 2010, the National Science Foundation's Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate requested white papers that outlined future research ideas and addressed challenges in innovative and transformative ways. In response, SBE received over 200 white papers. This paper explores first-generation students who are currently underrepresented in higher education and in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. While extensive research has been conducted on first generation college students, little is known about how other individuals of the previous generation influence these students’ college aspirations, enrollments, choice of major, and educational outcomes. This paper briefly outlines potential research questions and methodologies that would allow for first-generation students to be disaggregated by intergenerational influences, as well as further understandings of these types of students as family structures become increasingly complex. The fields of education, sociology, economics, and demography are offered as potential disciplines from which to study this line of inquiry. Such research is expected to further understandings of first-generation students, as well as create programs and policies that increase college attendance, entrance into STEM fields, and degree attainment through non-traditional avenues for these types of students.