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A WiSE Approach: Examining how Service Learning Impacts First-year Women in STEM

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2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Computing Track - Technical Session II

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Computing

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Amber Manning-Ouellette Iowa State University

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Amber Manning-Ouellette, Ph.D. is a lecturer of leadership studies at Iowa State University. Dr. Manning-Ouellette teaches several courses in the Leadership Studies Program including leadership strategies in a diverse society, women and leadership, and the leadership research capstone. She is also the director of the global leadership study abroad program which travels to Sweden and Nicaragua. Her research interests include women’s voice in leadership, civic engagement of first-year students, and study abroad experiences of undergraduate students.

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Lora Leigh G. Chrystal Iowa State University

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Lora Leigh Chrystal has been committed to increasing the representation of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce for the past 17 years at Iowa State University. As Director of the Program for Women in Science and Engineering, Lora Leigh has oversight for all outreach, recruitment and retention programs serving over 12,000 students in the state of Iowa each year. Prior to her role as director, Lora Leigh spent over 13 years building recruitment and retention programs for women in STEM fields. She is ABD in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Program at Iowa State University with a specific research interest in the retention of STEM women. Prior to her work at Iowa State University, Lora Leigh worked as a Research Technician for the Human Genome Sequencing center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.

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Allie Parrott Iowa State University

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Women are drawn to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields with a purpose to “change the world” and the opportunity to engage in a meaningful STEM experience early in their academic career can serve as a strong recruitment and retention tool (Carlone & Johnson, 2007). Service-learning provides a space for students to implement theory to practice and increase the likelihood of persistence. In particular, Vogelgesang, Ikeda, Gilmartin, and Keup (2002) report that students participating in service-learning projects in their first-year of college, indicate higher levels of success than those that did not, including academic and personal development.

The area of STEM and service-learning is an essential partnership because of the opportunity for students to experience how they can make a difference together through improvement of lives and communities (National Academy of Engineering [NAE], 2008). In other words, the population lends itself to align with the primary purpose of service-learning at the institutional level. More specifically, Haber (2012) notes that women’s understanding of leadership is more collaborative in nature. This understanding fits well with the team leadership learning outcome of service-learning projects in leadership courses (Sessa, Matos, & Hopkins, 2009). Benefits of service-learning include the development of personal self-efficacy through community service (Reeb, Folger, Langsner, Ryan, Crouse, 2010) which is significant as women in STEM majors report lower levels of leader efficacy than women in non-STEM majors (Dugan, Fath, Howes, Lavelle, & Polanin, 2013). In addition, service-learning shows gains in other areas including social justice, ethics, and civility (Harkavy & Hartley, 2010; Stanton, Giles, & Cruz, 1999).

For the past four years, the Program for Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) and Leadership Studies Program have collaborated to develop a high-impact leadership experience for first-year women majoring in STEM fields at a large, Midwestern university. Presenters will discuss course structure, funding models, service-learning project design, and developing community partnerships. The presentation will provide findings from a qualitative study examining how service-learning impacts first-year women in STEM. Finally, the presenters will offer descriptive data highlighting how the WiSE students made meaning of the experience and the benefits of service-learning and its impact on the retention and persistence of first-year STEM students.

Manning-Ouellette, A., & Chrystal, L. L. G., & Parrott, A. (2018, April), A WiSE Approach: Examining how Service Learning Impacts First-year Women in STEM Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--29511

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