Plenary VIII: Closing - Considering Barriers & Opportunities

Motivating Students to Pursue Careers in STEM Fields
The 2003 PKAL Assemblies
What Works - What Matters - What Lasts: The Roles and Responsibilities of Leaders in Undergraduate STEM

Oberlin College
September 5 - 7, 2003

Plenary VIII: Closing
Considering Barriers & Opportunities

Sunday, September 7, 2003
11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Susan Palmer, Executive Director, The Five Colleges of Ohio, Inc.

Mary Allen, Jean Glasscock Professor of Biological Science- Wellesley College
James E. Swartz, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the College, Professor of Chemistry- Grinnell College
Charles Glassick, Senior Associate Emeritus- The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


In the late 1980's, Grinnell College recognized the low number of women and students of color in STEM classrooms and labs. Examining this problem, we found many barriers that these students were facing: difficult acclimation to student life; different learning styles; lack of role models in the faculty; and no context for the study of science. By initiating a pre-orientation week for selected students who had expressed interest in majoring science, by making curricular changes, and by instituting mini-research opportunities through which students began to understand the context for science and were able to connect to a role model, we were able to serve those students more effectively and, indeed, offer a better learning environment for all STEM students at Grinnell.