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Professional Conference Presentations
Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA) 2012 Conference Presentation: "We take in some high-risk students, but we don't take very many": The Mobilization of Deficit Discourses in STEM Intervention Programs
Changing the status quo in STEM fields by increasing representation of traditionally underrepresented groups must start with how educators understand the problem, which is reflected in the language that they use to describe students. Using CRT, I analyze the various descriptions of underrepresented students in STEM intervention programs on behalf of program administrators because their perceptions and descriptions of undergraduate students of color and women lend insight into the logic underlying STEM recruitment and retention efforts. Drawing upon CRT’s critique of deficit theorizing (Yosso, 2005) and educational researcher Richard Valencia’s (1997; 2010) notion of education deficit thinking, I identify how discourses of deficit are mobilized among administrators and mapped onto racialized practices. How administrators make sense of the disproportionate numbers of underrepresented students in STEM fields is informative because it reveals their assumptions regarding these disparities. Their answers therefore provide insight into the logic undergirding the programs that they design to assist students. The language that they use to describe underrepresented students in STEM is also important because whether they refer to students as “at-risk” or “academically deficient,” or perhaps “products of their environment,” they make explicit their tacit assumptions regarding individual responsibility, social stratification, and merit. Part of our work as educators committed to social justice is to identify the mobilization of educational deficit thinking and assist in reframing the problem so that we can then design more responsive and equitable programming for underserved students.
Tenth Focus on Illinois Education Research Symposium 2012 Conference Presentation: We Know Where They Went, but Where Did They Come From? Analysis of Illinois High School Students, Feeder Schools, and Postsecondary Enrollment
The purpose of this study is to investigate the characteristics of public Illinois high schools that feed large, public universities. These types of institutions also produce a higher number of undergraduate degrees awarded in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. With the current emphasis for educational policy makers to increase the number of students, and subsequently, the number of undergraduate degrees awarded in STEM, these types of institutions should be of interest to policymakers. In improving access for underrepresented students from Illinois to these types of universities and to STEM fields, a more diverse and better qualified Illinois workforce would emerge. By investigating the extent to which public Illinois high schools “feed” these universities, we hope to better understand how to inform the recruitment efforts of the universities.
American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2012 Conference Presentation: Academic Engagement of Undergraduate Students Majoring in STEM 
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.   
American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2012 Conference Presentation: Latina/o Students in STEM: An Examination of Navigational and Social Capital
This symposium addresses the application of Yosso's (2005) community cultural wealth framework to study Latina/o access, achievement, and retention within higher education. Panelists will disucss how this theoretical framework was employed to analyze quantitative and qualitative dtaa on Latina/o high school students, first-year STEM students, high-achieving upperclassmen, and graduate students' postsecondary educational experiences. Additionally, panelists will offer new insights that extend Yosso's conceptualization of community cultural wealth and advance discourse regarding the experiences of Latina/o collegians. Audience members will also have an opportunity to engage in dialogue regarding the implications of using this theoretical framework in higher education research.
College of Education Graduate Student Conference (COEGSC) 2012 Presentation: Many Factors, One Goal: Observations from Current STEM Research
 As the United States seeks to increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees awarded to domestic students in order to ensure economic  security, technological advancement, social justice and global competitiveness, the underdevelopment of human capital for traditionally underserved students in higher education is a critical barrier. Coupled with the need to increase the STEM workforce, recent projections indicate that the United States will be undergoing a dramatic population shift with an increase in minority representation over the next few years. The symposium draws upon work conducted by research assistants under Project STEP-UP, a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Many factors influence STEM education. The three to be discussed are student academic engagement, faculty involvement, and parental influence. Panelists will make papers available for online, distribute handouts, and develop questions to help facilitate discussion. 
Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) 2011 Conference Presentation: Effects of Differential Tuition on Low-Income Undergraduate Students in Engineering (2011)
This study 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, and specifically in 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.
 American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2011 Conference Presentation: Considering the Role of Gender in Developing a Science Identity: Undergraduate Students in STEM Fields at Large, Public, Research Universities
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. 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. 
American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2011 Conference Presentation: Underrepresented Students in STEM: An Examination of Departmental Climate
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 in the STEM fields, an online student survey was launched at nine large, public, research institutions. The findings suggest that there are subtle but significant differences in regards to departmental climate perceptions by gender, substantial and significant differences by race/ethnicity, and significant findings at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender. 
Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) 2010 Conference Presentation: Funding STEM Intervention Programs: Money Speaks Louder than Words
Project STEP-UP presented on the funding of STEM intervention programs at the 2010 Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference, held in Indianapolis, IN. This study examines the sources of funding for STEM intervention programs at large, public, research universities, that seek to recruit and retain underrepresented undergraduates in the STEM fields. The findings highlight how the sources of funding impact service delivery and program sustainability. Legitimation theory is explored as a way to understand how universities view STEM intervention programs, and to explain variations in levels of financial support from institutions. 
Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) 2010 Conference Presentation: STEM Intervention Programs: The Shift from Opportunity to Merit
Project STEP-UP presented at the 2010 Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference, held in Indianapolis, IN. This presentation highlights shifting missions and guiding ideologies of STEM intervention programs at a set of large, public, research universities. Based on qualitative data gathered from interviews with program directors and administrators, the findings reveal that a number of programs originally created to provide and expand opportunities in the sciences are now rewarding merit-based achievements, and are accepting fewer students based on increasingly rigorous selection criteria. 
Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) 2010 Power Point: STEM Intervention Programs at Large, Public, Research Universities: Common Trends and Challenges
Project STEPUP examines the matriculation, persistence, and degree attainment of full-time, first-time enrolled women, minorities, and low-income undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields using a  mixed methods research design. Preliminary results from the study shows common trend and challenges of intervention programs large, public, research universities. Common trends and challenges include: Evolution of intervention programs, financial support and impact on delivery of services, national and state budget deficits, sources of funding, staffing, and assessment efforts in measuring program outcomes. This presentation serves as a resource to program administrators, policy makers, and researchers providing important information that could help the sustainability of intervention programs. 
Other Professional Presentations
Annual National Science Foundation (NSF) STEP Grantee Meeting (March 15-16, 2012)
This poster was presented at the annual NSF STEP Grantee meeting held in Washington, DC in March 2012. Findings from the third year of the study are highlighted, including results from the undergraduate student survey on students' science identity, parental background, influence on college major choice, academic and social engagement, support and encouragement to attend college. Additionally, results derived from data coordinated by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Public University Database project, used to explore the relationship between tuition differentials and low-income students in Engineering, reveals receiving a PELL grant impacts degree completion in Engineering. Themes observed from interviews with STEM intervention program directors and administrators are highlighted. The following themes are presented: Deficit, social capital, STEM intervention program organizational structure, faculty involvement, interest convergence, and program sustainability.
ASQ (2011) Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference Presentation: Establishing Legitimacy among STEM Intervention Programs: The Need for Evaluation
Project STEP-UP examined the importance of conducting evaluations of STEM Intervention Programs, particularly as evaluations and subsequent results not only inform decisions related to the program itself, but also impact the ability to demonstrate desired outcomes, secure recurring and new sources of funding, and gain legitimacy. Recommendations, such as partnering with other departments and colleges to conduct evaluations, are offered.
Project STEPUP: Strategies for Promoting Diversity
Dr. William Trent spoke on strategies for promoting diversity at the 2011 NSF STEP Grantee Meeting, held March 17-18, 2011, in Washington, DC. The panel also featured Wendy Bohrson (Central Washington University); Kathryn Borman (University of South Florida); and Lon Kaufman (University of Illinois at Chicago). This handout provides a brief overview of lessons learned from the project on strategies to promote diversity, and offers two specific recommendations: 1) college and departmental response(s) to diversity; and 2) student-targeted strategies that impact student preparation for and persistence in STEM. 
Annual National Science Foundation (NSF) STEP Grantee Meeting (March 17-18, 2011)
This poster was presented at the annual NSF STEP Grantee meeting held in Washington, DC in March 2011. Findings from the second year of the study are highlighted, including results from the undergraduate student survey on students' science identity, perceptions of department climate, and confidence in math and science skills; as well as themes observed from interviews with STEM intervention program directors and administrators.
Higher Education Collaborative (HEC) Power Point: "Exploring STEM Trends in Enrollment and Persistence for Underrepresented Populations" 
The Higher Education Collaborative is an interdepartmental, cross-disciplinary affiliation of individuals with teaching, scholarly research and other professional interests in higher learning in the United States and around the globe. Project STEP-UP was invited to take part in this scholarly discussion by presenting parts of a current study that "Explores  STEM Trends in Enrollment and Persistence for Underrepresented Populations." Preliminary study results showed: 1) trends in enrollment and persistence; 2) the design and challenges of intervention programs; 3) and attitudes and perceptions of currently enrolled students. 
Underrepresented Undergraduates in STEM at Large Research Universities: From Matriculation to Degree Completion
This presentation was prepared and presented at the annual NSF STEP Grantee meeting in March 2010. It provides an overview of the project and preliminary results from the first year of the study. 
Power Point: Rethinking the STEM fields: The Importance of Definitions in Examining Women’s Participation and Success in the Sciences
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.