Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Danyelle S. Crusby - Tuskegee University
Co-Author(s): Vivian L. Carter, Chadia Affane Aji, Melvin Gadson, Lauretta Garrett, Mohammed A Qazi, and Li Huang, Tuskegee University, AL
America needs strong STEM graduates to help ensure global economics competitiveness. An insufficiently tapped American resource for STEM productivity lies in its African American population. The percentage of African Americans students majoring in STEM fields as freshmen in The United States has consistently been high than their percentage in the larger population. Nevertheless, their representation among all scientists and engineers has been well below that percentage. Through a grant from the National Science Foundation, we conducted a study to examine the psychosocial and structural factors affecting the retention of STE students at HBCUs. Factors affecting retention were three psycho-social categories: motivational, emotional and social factors and the additional factor structural factors. Our research questions were what psycho-social factors appear to affect the retention of students in STEM disciplines at HBCUs? In what ways are those effects manifested? How structural factors influences retention rates in STEM disciples at HBCUs? What influences do psycho-social factors appear to have on the effectiveness of structural factors which are intended to support student retention in STEM disciplines? Using a mix method process, quantitative and qualitative, we were able to answer our research questions. The results of undergraduate student’s top psycho-social factors were desire to make a living and to make a lot of money, having faith in a higher power, and the influence of immediate family and extended family. The undergraduate’s motivational factors included wanting a career, a better standard of living and the rewards for other people. Their emotional factors included self-efficacy and productivity. Lastly, their social factors included their family influences, social and extracurricular influences. The second question results, of how do structural factors influence retention in STEM disciplines at HBCUs, were undergraduates students top factors were class size, scholarships, teachers support, mentors and availability of internet access. Many believed that tangible resources, specialized technology, the infrastructure and equitable financial support were keys factors as well. As well institutional standards, the strength of the curriculum and program for students needed to be looked into. The last question results, what influences do psycho-social factors appear to have on the effectiveness of structural factors which are intended to support student retention in STEM disciplines, with structural and emotional factors were HBCU strengths and personal life management. With Structural and motivational factors the results were teaching for relevant and professional exposure. In conclusion, research has shown that retention is multifaceted and even individual predictors of retention such as adjustment to college life have multiple components. Based upon our findings the following implications for practice pull together ways to leverage structural changes and improvements to positively affect psycho social factors and impact retention. They center on the approach to improving STEM retention within three broad areas: structured embedded mentoring, diversified personalized support and professional standards and exposure.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation
Faculty Advisor: Vivian Carter, N/A