Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

What Works: Ensuring the Success of Under-represented Groups in STEM Learning Environments

Faculty addressing the issue of diversity:

  • have a commitment to students and to their success in STEM programs
  • are reflective about their practices with students, respecting and understanding differences in background, preparation, career aspiration, learning style
  • are adaptable and willing to try new approaches and strategies to ensure student success and persistence
  • are available and accessible, in and beyond formal classroom times
  • are passionate about doing science, serving as role models for students
  • see students as partners in a larger community of learners on their campus.

The academic program serving student diversity:

  • is flexible, with multiple entry points for students who come with diverse backgrounds, preparations, and career aspirations
  • attends to quality and character of introductory courses, that they are pumps, not filters
  • is shaped around research on how people learn
  • makes science relevant to the lives of students, bringing real-world issues with local significance into on-campus learning.

The institution tackling the issue of diversity:

  • recognizes that ensuring the success of all students is a campus-wide responsibility, with mechanisms for shared governance in place
  • has linked strategic planning and budget allocations to student learning goals
  • provides institution-wide support to ensuring the success of all students
  • has a culture of mentoring– up/down/sideways: students/faculty/staff– so everyone is responsible for someone else's success
  • works with neighboring high schools to ensure their students are better prepared for college
  • encourages and rewards faculty engagement with the K-12 community
  • provides critical financial support: for student scholarships (instead of loans); for student services (advising, counseling); for faculty and curriculum development; for small classes, learning communities; for technologies and other equipment
  • recognizes that an informed campus community serves students most effectively
  • signals its intent to ensure the success of all students in the institutional mission, as well as in policies and practices for design and review of faculty and program, for setting budgets.

Facilities that attract students in the study of STEM:

  • provide hospitable, welcoming environments for individual learners and for collaborating groups of learners
  • showcase the relevance and human nature of the scientific and technological enterprise.