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Shining Light on STEM Education Research Institute for STEM Education Portraying Success of URM Engineering Majors – Preliminary Findings Randa L. Shehab,

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Presentation on theme: "Shining Light on STEM Education Research Institute for STEM Education Portraying Success of URM Engineering Majors – Preliminary Findings Randa L. Shehab,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Shining Light on STEM Education Research Institute for STEM Education Portraying Success of URM Engineering Majors – Preliminary Findings Randa L. Shehab, PI Susan E. Walden, Project Director Jeanette Davidson, Teri Jo Murphy, Teri Reed Rhoads, Deborah A. Trytten, Co-PIs Cindy E. Foor, Assistant Director © Research Institute for STEM Education K-20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal The University of Oklahoma

2 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Research Goals What systemic factors contribute to the success of URM students in engineering at large, predominantly white universities? What systemic factors contribute to differential success between URM populations?

3 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Research Method Open-ended conversational interviews with URM engineering undergraduates Targeted sampling Students who self-reported: African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and Native American ethnicity Main focus on students with junior and senior standing, as sophomores have had limited interactions with college Include sophomores and heavy initial recruiting on juniors for longitudinal data collection Ensure majors with large populations of a certain ethnic group are sampled Use multiple avenues (telephone, , booth, visits to technical societies) to recruit volunteers Make the participation incentive worth their time Collect academic transcripts to examine course-taking patterns and possible speed-bumps Observe student groups activities Interview faculty and advisors as determined by data

4 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Coding Team Structure Following Advisory Board recommendations Interview transcript coding divided among four teams each specializing in one ethnic group. Each team has at least two members: One or more students who are members of the ethnic group, including our student interviewers One co-PI on the project Each team is assigned to: Review and summarize relevant literature Develop nodes and code interview transcripts Identify common themes and patterns in data Senior coders (co-PIs) meet frequently to report and discuss emerging themes. Senior coders will meet with local advisory board of staff and community members of the ethnic groups who are also familiar with the university and its students to discuss emerging themes.

5 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Advisory Board Topics raised for discussion with Board (June 28-30, 2005) Overview of goals and progress Interviewer team Interview protocol Coding techniques and strategies Preliminary data Relevant literature Board Recommendations Modify interview protocol Move away from exhaustive list of questions of programs, issues, and strategies derived from literature and team experience Use a more open-ended, reflective-conversation protocol with extensive list of follow-up probes for interviewers to draw upon as needed Role differentiation and focus Increase differentiation of responsibilities among co-PI team Develop ethnic-specific teams Interviewing and data analysis should be done by teams set up for a specific racial/ethnic group Reinforce project goals with interviewers during training Invite ethnic CoE alumni to join Advisory Board Upcoming Board meeting – June 6-8, 2006

6 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Protocol Evolution Original Protocol (Spring 05) 57 questions with recommended probes Themed groupings: Background Experiences in Engineering Diversity Academic Support Participation in Ethnic Activities Personal Relationships and Goals Summary / reflective / evaluative questions Modified Protocol (Fall 05 – current) Open-ended, reflective, conversational protocol with extensive list of follow-up probes Chronology of students life What brought you here? Early experiences Current life Reflections Reframe study goals Valuation (helps most, why, hurts most, advice) Modified Protocol Probes FamilyMoneyInstitutional / Academic: FriendsEmploymentTeam work CommunityResidenceProfessor / TA SpiritualAdvising Personal / IndividualOffice Hours CulturalInternships / Research

7 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Interview Progress

8 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma African American Literature Observations Common theme is surrounding yourself with supportive people and organizations. Nurturing Personnel Hurte, V.J. (2002). Mentoring: The forgotten retention tool. Black Issues in Higher Education, 19(18), p. 49. Success Strategies Reyes, M.A., Anderson-Rowland, M.R., & McCartney, M.A. (2000). Learning from our minority engineering students: Improving retention. Proceedings of the Annual Conference and Exposition of the American Society for Engineering Education, pp Student Organizations St. Omer, I., Sampson, C., & Lee, M. (1999). Minority Student Retention: Importance of Ethnicity Based Technical Organizations for Students at Majority Institutions. Proceedings of the Annual Conference and Exposition of the American Society for Engineering Education, pp Religion Herndon, M.K. (2003). Expressions of Spirituality Among African-American College Males. Journal of Men's Studies, 12(1), pp

9 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma African American Emerging Themes African American students talk about the academic support provided by the multicultural engineering program director. I think MEP advisement is great because you talk to… {W03}… she is like you cant take this (course), are you crazy? She would really let you know you are just going by curriculum… you got to complete your curriculum or you cant do it (finish)… [Male senior] Students describe the importance of making a positive impression on the teacher. Uh, basically you have to really show the teacher that you are trying; you know kind of get to know them and kind of let them know where you are coming from. You have to have some people in there helping you out, and you know working with you taking their time and stuff like that [Male senior]

10 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma African American Emerging Themes Ethnic-oriented student organizations play a significant role in students lives. …definitely get involved with the different programs that are for us like NSBE because that will help a lot just because they have mentoring programs and all of the people have been through what you are getting into as freshmen, so they know how to help you. [Male junior] Spirituality provides a strong foundation for decision making and motivation. … my religious beliefs also, going to church and keeping my relationship with God is also support also and motivation in myself to continue. [Male junior] I dont know, I guess I have to go back to… Im a preachers kid so we go back to the Bible all the time, so my strong upbringing in God and, you know, my faith and then my very strong support group and my family back in Houston. [Female junior] I consider myself to be a spiritual person, I always look at stuff in the spiritual aspect, it is more than just flesh, you know just us walking around, to me its like common sense, its basic, you know heavy thinking of how something granted this, because you know when you look around it is just common sense [Male senior]

11 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Native American Literature Observations Native American student success is linked to traditional ways of learning, maintaining cultural integrity, social support systems. Montgomery, D., Miville, M.L., Winterowd, C., Jeffries, B., Baysden, M.F. (2000). American Indian College Students: An exploration into resiliency factors revealed through personal stories. Cultural Diversity and Ehtnic Minority Psychology, 6(4), Native American students face challenges of racism, nonlinear path, paradoxical cultural pressure. Jackson, A.P., Smith, S.A., and Hill, C.L. (2003). Academic persistence among Native American college students. Journal of College Student Development, 44(4), Financial resources can pose a barrier to college for Native Americans. Canabal, M.E. (1995). Native Americans in Higher Education. Journal of College Student Development. 29(4), Huffman, T. (2003). A comparison of personal assessments of the college experience among reservation and nonreservation American Indian students. Journal of American Indian Education, 42(2), Visible Native American students experience marginalization, surveillance, and oppression. Brayboy, B.M.J. (2004). Hiding in the ivy: American Indian students and visibility in elite educational settings. Harvard Educational Review, 74(2),

12 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Native American Emerging Themes Native American students interviewed to date have little cultural identity. They are tribal members and most receive financial support from the tribe. They have limited involvement with any tribal or cultural activities. When I was in high school my senior year I was the Native American class representative for my high school. I went to a lot of those tribal meeting things and things like that. It was fine, but it is so random but you will go to one and it would be all blond hair, blue eyes and you are like am I in the right place? Its crazy how many blonde haired blue eyed people are Native American. [Male senior] Students rely on tribal and academic scholarships and loans for support. I just think there are other people that are mad that I get financial assistance and they dont. But I wouldnt consider myself…I dont think people walk in there and like, Oh, shes Native American. So I dont think Ive experienced a lot of that because they dont really…they cant…they dont really see me as a minority. [Female junior] Basically, what it boils down to, is if I didnt have those scholarships, theres a lot, things would be a lot more difficult, you know, as far as going to school. [Male junior]

13 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Native American Emerging Themes Students speak of the difficulty in transitioning from high school to a large university. I came here and I was like man, the classes are a lot harder here at OU than what they were at [early entry program] XU. Its not big high school anymore. Its actually college. … Well, on move in day to the dorms I was amazed at how many freshman there actually were. …It looks like I am at Six Flags there are so many people walking all in different directions.... [Male senior] OK, heres one of the major shockers that basically I got into when I went into the College of Engineering, and that is when I was in high school, especially because I went to a small school, all class was just ridiculously easy I realize now because I never studied for anything. …you know I was the smart kid in my class and I never had to try and it was just, you know. …and then I come here and all of a sudden its like I really honestly felt like I must be one of the dumbest kids in here… [ Male junior] Participation in the multicultural engineering program is a source of support. I feel like that class was very, very influential on helping me find, just having a support kind of on a more higher level of talking to your students or talking to fellow classmates. Its kind of like, theres someone on the inside of the College of Engineering… [ Male junior] But I just thought we were kind of the elite freshman class that were in MEP. …we got the attention that we deserved and the attention that we needed. [Female sophomore]

14 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Hispanic Literature Observations Hispanic students tend to rely on family support to overcome other stressors. Arellano, A.R., & Padilla, A.M. (1996). Academic Invulnerability Among a Select Group of Latino University Students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 18(4), Brown, S.W. (2002). Hispanic Students Majoring in Science or Engineering: What Happened in Their Educational Journeys? Journal of Women & Minorities in Science & Engineering, 8(2), Castillo, L.G. & Hill, R.D. (2004). Predictors of Distress in Chicana College Students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 32, Gandara, P. (1995). Over the Ivy Walls: The Educational Mobility of Low- Income Chicanos, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Personal motivation to succeed is powerful. Cabrera, N.L. & Padilla, A.M. (2004). Entering and Succeeding in the Culture of College: The Story of Two Mexican Heritage Students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 26(2), Student organizations support success. St. Omer, I., Sampson, C., & Lee, M. (1999). Minority Student Retention: Importance of Ethnicity Based Technical Organizations for Students at Majority Institutions. Proceedings of the Annual Conference and Exposition of the American Society for Engineering Education, Washington, DC, pp

15 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Hispanic Emerging Themes Commuting isolates Hispanic students and hinders their campus involvement. Well, I just have a lot of ties in [city 140 miles away]. Like actually its my fifth year here and Ive gone back every single weekend except for maybe like five weekends in the five years. Basically, Ive got my family there that I really enjoy spending a lot of time with. The majority of my friends are there, and then also Im involved with different church things there also. So, I wanted to stay close to that because that kind of stuff is important to me. [Male senior] Well I didnt know that there are so many outside help that I could have gotten my first year, and second year. I didnt move out of my parents house until second semester, in my sophomore year. So I really never remained on campus, I went to school, to choir practice and then went home. So basically I was pretty much on my own and I didnt have a strong back ground in the subject, so it was even more difficult for me. So I didnt really know about like MEP, I didnt know about Project Threshold, I didnt know about any of those things until I moved out. And really started to know campus, and campus life. [Female senior] Um, yeah, I know there are a lot, some clubs, engineering clubs and stuff like that but no I havent been able to join them mostly because since I live off campus I know it would be hard for me to go to every meeting and come since the gas is so high now (c). [Male junior]

16 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Hispanic Emerging Themes Hispanic students report strong ties to their families. They describe their families high expectations for them, their pressure to focus academically, and their role in providing academic support. Other things that have helped me succeed are my parents. Theyre always pushing me to do the best I can, and I talk to them practically everyday on the phone. … What does success mean to me? I guess one of the things that have really been important for me, is to make my parents proud. [Male junior] Because, I know as soon as I mention I am with my girlfriend I can tell they [parents] get mad. Not mad, but they worry and not about me [but] in the sense of you know you have a girlfriend and that may be four As and one B instead of five As …I dont think they try to make me feel guilty about it. Whether it is my conscience or them I think it is a little bit of both in the end. They give you so much, when they tell me you know break up with her, study, right now the best thing you can do is study and get the highest G.P.A. you can because that is what is really going to help you in life. I am sure you like this girl, but think of the future. In two years are you going to be with her, are you going to be with this girl and how is your G.P.A. going to be?. They try to put things into perspective. [Male junior] Whenever I came up here and was first going through all the enrollment processing and my dad was up there and we went through this room that had a bunch of flyers and handouts in it and he grabbed this one – it was like a bookmark – and it said free tutoring. And when we first started he handed it to me and was like here, this might be a good thing to hang onto. So I held onto it. [Male senior]

17 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Asian American Literature Observations Family history is significant in terms of country of origin, number of generations in U.S., and status as an immigrant or refugee. Lee, J.F.J. (1992). Asian Americans: Oral Histories of First to Fourth Generation Americans from China, the Philippines, Japan, India, the Pacific Islands, Vietnam and Cambodia. The New Press: New York. Zia, H. (2000). Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York. Language difficulties lead to academic problems and limiting of career options. Lee, S.J. (1996). Unraveling The Model Minority Stereotype. Teachers College Press: New York. Min, P.G. (1997). Changes and Conflicts: Korean Immigrant Families in New York. Allyn and Bacon: Boston. Asian American Identity Kibna, N. (2002). Becoming Asian American. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore. Wu, F.H. (2002). Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White. Basic Books: New York.

18 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Asian American Emerging Themes Students speak about their disappointment in academic advising. … the professors dont know anything. Its like Okay, what are you going to take? and Im like Im going to take these classes and they look at them and say Make sure you have the prereqs. [Male senior, immigrated as young child] All students define family as being important. Some students feel their family is supportive. Other students describe the obstacles posed by family obligation. … my Dad was like Why dont you try electrical engineering? and I was like Okay.. [Male junior, born in US] Like my Dad needs to go somewhere; I need to drive him to like to the doctor or go to market and my Mom too. They dont drive. [Male junior, recent immigrant] Language issues are more prominent for recent immigrants. Sometimes you talk with the (group) [of] people…its hard talking to them…Sometimes I participate and I miss what they talk. I think it is really bad like that. [Male junior, recent immigrant]..sometimes the professors they are from another country…and its really impossible to understand them. [Male junior, immigrated in early teens]

19 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Asian American Emerging Themes Students who have been in the US longer express attitudes similar to those of dominant culture. Early immigrants / born in US I dont care about money. It doesnt bring happiness. [Male senior, immigrated as a young child] I party a lot, but I have to study. [Male junior, born in U.S.] Recent immigrants …find a job and then work for my whole life. So that is why I went to school [Male junior, immigrated in late teens] When I started high school, I had a lot of friends… But when you go to college…you go to class and go home, go to class, go home. I think right now that it is a lot of good for me. [Male junior, immigrated in late teens]

20 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Continuing Efforts Additional interviews New participants Longitudinal aspects Disparity between Native American experiences at OU and described in literature Cultural identity construction Expectations for what is Native American Graduation rate Intra-group analysis based on country of origin and generation of immigration Role of American experience while growing up Role of the commuter student on campus Role of the transfer student on campus

21 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Challenges How to get engineering students to come in for interviews? How do you get engineering students to tell their story? How do you accomplish interviews using graduate research assistants? How do we manage the balance of methodology and disciplinary differences?

22 ©RISE at The University of Oklahoma Acknowledgement This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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