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An Assessment of HBCU STEM Student Experiences: Toward the Development of a Student Persistence Model

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Shabnam Etemadi Brady Tennessee State University Orcid 16x16

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Shabnam Etemadi Brady is a Ph.D. student in Counseling Psychology at Tennessee State University with research interests in the educational and mental health development of marginalized populations, such as immigrants and refugees. She is currently working on National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research regarding broadening participation and student persistence in STEM for graduate programs and at HBCUs under Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young who is Associate Vice President and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence (CAFÉ).

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Germysha Emily Little Tennessee State University

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Germysha is a recent graduate from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has been apart of this research team since 2014 and is responsible for data analysis and other tasks such as creating and revising surveys.

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Lesia L. Crumpton-Young Tennessee State University

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Dr. Crumpton-Young serves as Chief Research Officer, Vice President, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Tennessee State University.

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Sreyoshi Bhaduri Virginia Tech

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Sreyoshi Bhaduri recently graduated with a Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. She has an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and an M.A. in Data Analytics and Applied Statistics (DAAS) both from Virginia Tech. Sreyoshi's research interests include working on innovative research designs for analyzing varied datasets and presenting the results of these analyses to various stakeholders through meaningful and easily interpretable visualizations. Sreyoshi was recognized during her time at Virginia Tech as a Diversity Scholar, was a part of the Global Perspectives Program (GPP-2013), served as a Fellow of the Academy for Graduate Teaching Excellence (VT-GrATE), and was inducted into the prestigious Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.

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An Assessment of HBCU STEM Student Experiences: Towards the Development of a Student Persistence Model Work-in-Progress: Research Paper Students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degrees at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) may face difficult challenges in their journey to successfully complete their degrees. To address these challenges, it is important to identify problematic areas as well as needed areas of improvement in STEM programs, particularly engineering programs from student, faculty, and administrator perspectives. The purpose of the present research study is to identify barriers that may hinder students from the successful completion of a degree in STEM, such as Engineering by identifying common themes experienced in STEM programs at HBCUs.

A 24-item survey was developed from current literature and administered to current students, faculty, and administrators at HBCUs nationwide to gain insight into undergraduate student experiences in STEM (Terenzi & Reason, 2005; Seymour 2000). The survey items were carefully developed and categorized using 3 strategic and fundamental research thrusts, such as cultural intersectionality; institutional climate; and Engineering career trajectory to support efforts in broadening participation and student persistence. Thus, the survey elicited responses from students, faculty, and administrators based on these 3 areas. Participants were asked to rate items centered on their experiences and perspectives in their current STEM degree programs using a Likert scale (1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Neutral, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly Agree, 6 = Not Sure). The participants were from 4 HBCUs nationwide. Majority of participants identified as Black or African American, 78% from Group 1 (henceforth referred to as Student Participants) and 51% from Group 2 (referred to as Faculty and Administrator Participants). Majority of participants also self-identified as male, 56% from Group 1 and 72% from Group 2. Additionally, most participants from Group 1 self-identified from various Engineering fields, such as the following: chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, and electrical engineering among others.

Primary barriers as indicated by the Student participants include the following: “Students lose confidence due to low grades in early STEM courses; Students have inadequate high school preparation in study skills; and Students are overwhelmed by the fast-paced STEM courses.” The top barriers indicated by the Faculty and Administrator Participants include the following: “Students have inadequate high school preparation in study skills; Students have inadequate high school preparation in STEM subjects; and Students lose confidence due to low grades in early STEM courses.” Comparing the findings of the two groups, it is remarkable that the top barriers for both groups share the same theme for 2 out of the 3 barriers. Further analyses indicated that gender differences for the Student Participants occurred on the following survey items: “Students have inadequate access to lab or lab facilities” and “Students think STEM career options are not worth effort to get degree.” These findings will support the development and the structure of an operational model to address cultural intersectionality; institutional climate; and Engineering career trajectory in Engineering programs as HBCUs and nationally.

Brady, S. E., & Little, G. E., & Crumpton-Young, L. L., & Bhaduri, S. (2018, June), An Assessment of HBCU STEM Student Experiences: Toward the Development of a Student Persistence Model Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29776

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