Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Germysha Little - Tennessee State University
Co-Author(s): T'Shana Carter, Lydia Davis, and Shabnam Brady, Tennessee State University
Hypothesis The present research study seeks to analyze underrepresented minority graduate student perspectives in STEM graduate programs in order to develop best practices to increase the rates of recruitment, retention, and graduation of in these students in the STEM fields. Methods In our second round of data collection, a 53-item survey was revised from findings from the preliminary round of analyzed data in this research study. The current survey explored the participants’ institutional practices and policies, support systems, communication skills, and motivational techniques. A few examples of the survey items include: How do you perceive the campus/classroom environment for underrepresented minority graduate BD students in your current STEM courses? How do you motivate yourself to finish your coursework and to stay on task? In your graduate program, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them? Results Participant demographics include 10% reporting as a post-doctorate or sixth-year student, with the largest representation from first-year or second-year graduate student, over 50% of the participants. Four races were represented in this survey population. Over half of the participants identified as Hispanic, with only 4% identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander. Participant genders were 61% female and 39% male. The top academic programming included the sponsorship of students to attend research conferences. Program requirements of minimal GPA and of minimal course grades, and professional development course or seminar series for completion of degrees were also found to be supportive by student participants. Students reported that requiring a minimum GPA and course grade seemed to help students succeed through their graduate program. Additionally, participants rated times in which they could positively cope with occurrences in their personal life. For example, most students provided a rating of 1 regarding being overwhelmed with stress (0 = Never 1 = Almost Never 2 = Sometimes 3 = Fairly Often 4 = Very Often). Most support for students in graduate school derived from family and peers in the program. Advisors and mentors were also reported to be a part of student support systems. In contrast, graduate school staff and professors were reported to provide the least support for students. Conclusion The researchers are aiming to identify areas of strengths and limitations that underrepresented students in STEM programs are enduring. The findings will support improved programming, policy, procedures, and institutional advancement for the success of underrepresented students in STEM graduate programs. Results will be disseminated nationwide to progress institutions with matriculation, development, and completion of underrepresented students in STEM graduate program.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation
Faculty Advisor: Crumpton-Young, email@example.com
Role: As an undergraduate researcher, I took the lead on inputting the data from the surveys into Excel. After the data was inputted in electronic form, I developed graphs to summarize the data and also code that data from the short answer response questions.