Plenary III: Student Transitions from 2- to 4-Year Institutions

Moderator:  Anthony L. DePass


Shifting Students’ Stereotypes of Scientists to Enhance Science Identity in a Diverse, Community College Context
Jeff Schinske, Amanda Snyder, Heather Perkins, Mary Wyner, Monica Cardenas, Jahana Kaliangara—all of De Anza College

Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory suggests that seeing role models with characteristics similar to oneself succeed at a task increases one’s own self efficacy in regards to that task. Further, gender/ethnic-matching may be particularly important in the establishment of effective role models (Haas, 1985). The relative lack of prominent gender/ethnic-matched role models for many traditionally underserved STEM students may therefore present a disadvantage to such students in connecting with STEM and building a science identity. Indeed, numerous studies have uncovered connections between a sense of belonging in science, scientist stereotypes, science identity, and students’ persistence/success in STEM. We tested a series of weekly metacognitive homework assignments (“Scientist Spotlights”) to introduce students to diverse scientist role models in a non-majors/general education biology class at a diverse community college. We matched scientists’ work to the schedule of course content and attended to numerous axes of diversity in selecting scientists to highlight, including ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, age, academic history, interests outside science, neurotype, etc. Students learned about the scientists through podcasts, TED Talks, and academic articles, among other resources, and were instructed to reflect on what they learned by recording their interests/confusions surrounding the scientist’s work, generating questions about the biology content discussed, and reporting what the assignment told them about the types of people that do science. Based on previous studies we hypothesized:

1) Students would initially hold stereotypical images of scientists and would initially report a lack of personal connections with scientists.

2) After completing Scientist Spotlights, students would hold more non-stereotypical images of scientists.

3) After completing Scientist Spotlights, students would feel they could personally relate to at least one scientist.

4) Students would tend to cite gender/ethnic-matched scientists as those to whom they could most closely relate.

5) Self-reported ability to relate to a scientist would correlate with achievement in class.

We evaluated these hypotheses by analyzing beginning-of-class and end-of-class student surveys. Surveys consisted of a constructed-response assessment regarding scientist stereotypes and a Likert assessment with constructed-response explanation regarding ability to relate to scientists. Assessments were piloted and validity was examined in a prior class that did not include Scientist Spotlights. Results provided evidence in support of Hypotheses 1, 2, 3, and 5. While some students wrote about the importance to them of hearing from gender or ethnic-matched scientists, there was over-all a poor correlation between students’ genders/ethnicities and those of scientists to whom they said they could relate. As Scientist Spotlights require virtually no class time and can be graded simply for completion, this intervention provides an effective way for all educators to enhance science identity and shift stereotypes in a broad range of STEM classrooms while complementing existing curricula and lessons.

Hostos Community College-The City University of New York Joint Dual Engineering Degree Program: A Successful Marriage

Yoel Rodríguez; Felix Cardona—both of Hostos Community College and Anthony L. DePass—Long Island University—Brooklyn

Hostos Community College (HCC), located in the South Bronx, is one of seven community colleges in The City University System of New York (CUNY).  With classes offered in English and Spanish, HCC serves a student population that is over three quarters Hispanic (For spring 2014 the students profile was Hispanic 59.5%, Black 22.1%, White 2.1%, Asian 3.4%), reflecting a local community of Puerto Ricans and new immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Central America. In 2003, HCC established its first Joint Dual (JD) Admission Engineering Degree A.S./B.E. Program in Electrical Engineering with the Grove School of Engineering (GsoE) of CUNY’s flagship senior college, The City College of New York (CCNY). The program has since been expanded to A.S./B.E. in Civil Engineering (2005), A.S./B.E. in Chemical Engineering (2007), A.S./B.E. in Mechanical Engineering (2011), and A.S/B.E. in Environmental Engineering, approved in spring 2014. Students in the JD program complete freshman and sophomore courses at HCC, reflecting the engineering curricula at the senior college with opportunities for any necessary remediation. A number of key interventions are also employed to promote retention and enhance academic performance for students that would not have been directly admitted into the CCNY engineering programs. These interventions include: 1) an intense advisement schedule that begins with ‘Engineering Orientation Day’ activities where the students are informed about the program expectations, the requirements necessary to remain in the program, and the admission criteria to transfer to CCNY’s GsoE after successful completion of the A.S. in Engineering at HCC; 2) an Advisement Council comprised of 17 faculty from the Mathematics and Natural Sciences departments; 3) ‘Celebration of the Conversation Days’ where juniors and seniors in engineering and engineering alumni share their journey to earning their engineering degree and how they navigate(d) academic and life challenges; 4) STEM Institutes that enhance preparation for gatekeeper courses; 5) career oriented-STEM seminars where engineers and scientists present their research and talk about their careers; 6) ‘Transfer Orientation Day” at CCNY’s GsoE, where the students who are about to take ePermit classes as well as transferring are informed about senior college life and expectations; 7) STEM related field trips to national laboratories and research intensive universities, science museum visits, and  ‘Math and Physics Days’ that engage the local community. Students in the program are also encouraged to leverage other CUNY programs that promote undergraduate research training.

As of fall 2014, 109 students (13 percent female) have graduated from HCC with A.S. in Engineering degrees. Ninety-two students have transferred to CCNY’s GsoE, some of whom transferred before the A.S. degree. Thirty-five students from the program transferred to CCNY but switched to other majors or discontinued. Based on a five-year enrollment period (fall 2007/spring 2012), about 41% of HCC students who have transferred to CCNY’s GSOE have graduated with the B.E., with an additional 14 percent matriculated in CCNY’s GsoE. When more recent data is considered, the senior college retention rate is 66% (this is for the period covering fall 2007/spring 2012) and retention within major is currently 83% for the fall 2014 compared to 17% for spring 2010. Three of program alumni are currently pursuing their PhD and MS degrees in Princeton, Pennsylvania and Stanford Universities.


Don't forget to join us in San Antonio for the 2017 UI Conference!

Our 9th Conference on Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation in Science Careers will be held at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, in downtown San Antonio.