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An Asset Approach to Broadening Participation: Tips and Tools for Strategic Planning

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track: Learning Spaces, Pedagogy & Curriculum Design Technical Session 9

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Learning Spaces, Pedagogy & Curriculum Design

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Paper Authors


Adrienne Ann Smith Cynosure Consulting

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Dr. Adrienne Smith is a social scientist by training and an evaluator in practice with over ten years of experience leading evaluations in the areas of STEM education, collective impact, and teacher preparation. Adrienne started her evaluation career at top evaluation and policy organizations in North Carolina (Horizon Research and the Education Policy Initiative at Carolina) before founding Cynosure Consulting. Adrienne’s commitment to high-quality evaluation is born out of a personal desire to broaden participation of women and other underrepresented students, including students in rural areas and those who learn differently, in STEM education from pre-K through graduate studies. Her current work focuses on supporting and evaluating the construction of collaborative communities and building evaluation capacity within organizations and large-scale programs. In all efforts Adrienne works to (a) truly understand the purpose and needs for the evaluation or research undertaking, (b) develop feedback cycles that support continuous program improvement, (c) make implementation and impact data available and interpretable for program implementers, and (d) select the most rigorous, yet feasible analytic designs that are tailored to the unique needs of each program context. She has published in scholarly and practitioner-focused journals on topics including evaluation design, instrument validation, and the effectiveness of policy change. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Psychology Adrienne completed a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at UNC Greensboro. She taught third grade before returning to UNC Chapel Hill to complete a PhD in Education. In addition to her evaluation work Adrienne has worked on multiple research projects, taught doctoral- level research methods and statistic courses, and mentored undergraduate and graduate students.

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Rebecca A. Zulli Cynosure Consulting

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All too often when thinking about recruiting, supporting, and retaining diverse students in our STEM majors and programs, the situation is approached from a deficit mindset; that is, one that focuses on what students or environments lack that must be remedied. In our work supporting CS Departments with their broadening participation efforts, we focus on fostering an asset-minded approach to strategic planning. This approach is grounded in the rich framework of asset mapping that is widely used in community development efforts. Our presentation will provide an overview of asset mapping and the asset-based mindset as a foundation for promoting significant and sustainable improvements in the recruitment, retention, and development of diverse students in STEM undergraduate programs. Each institutional context presents a rich set of resources, individuals, and programs that, when properly identified and leveraged, can substantially bolster departmental efforts to broaden participation. By creating and examining an asset map resources can be targeted to build on existing efforts rather than create redundancies. Similarly, utilizing an asset- minded approach ensures that the best available expertise is brought to bear by illuminating existing expertise and encouraging inclusion and connectivity. Asset-based thinking enhances morale as well by nurturing collaboration and helping to break down “silos” that may occur unintentionally. In their place communities of practice, networks, and partnerships can flourish.

This presentation will provide a structure for thinking about comprehensively about assets. Additionally, we will present specific examples for faculty and departments engaging in strategic recruitment and retention practices for how to utilize asset-based thinking to expand their efforts and enhance their impacts.

Smith, A. A., & Zulli, R. A. (2019, April), An Asset Approach to Broadening Participation: Tips and Tools for Strategic Planning Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

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