July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
This NSF Grantee Poster explores the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on students at XXXX University, specifically examining the differential effects of the XYZ Program (XYZP) on program participants and a comparison group of matched non-participants. XYZP is a comprehensive summer bridge program with intrusive term-time advising and ongoing support. XYZP aims to increase STEM retention and graduation for promising STEM matriculants who attended under-resourced high schools. XYZP is not remedial; rather, XYZP exposes students to the most challenging topics of the freshman year STEM curriculum during an intense, six-week long summer program. Additionally, students participate in supplemental curricula designed to encourage major exploration, teach academic success skills, build community, and introduce resources available at XXXX University. Many students in XYZP are the first in their families to attend college and/or identify as low-income. Though selection to XYZP is race-and-ethnicity-blind, the majority of participants in XYZP are students of color, reflecting disparities in under-resourced high school attendance. XYZP recently welcomed its ninth cohort of participants. One of the goals of XYZP is to increase participant feelings of belonging at XXXX University broadly and, specifically, to increase feelings of belonging within STEM at XXXX University. Sense of belonging to a university refers to the extent to which a student feels accepted and fits in to his or her college environment and major (Ostrove & Long, 2007). Building a sense of belonging in students is critical to retention (Tinto, 1987). Additionally, XYZP aims to create a strong network of peer support among and across cohorts of XYZP participants. In a sample of 100 URM first-generation students, lower reported peer support (students’ beliefs that their peers would be willing to help them with their college-related problems, i.e. social integration) predicted lower GPAs a semester later (i.e. academic integration; Dennis et al., 2005). In the context of The Model of Institutional Departure (Tinto, 1993) and research on STEM students and the additional barriers that non-majority groups face, it is possible that more socially and academically integrated students will be more able to overcome barriers to their success in STEM in college. The universal stressor of the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to explore how, if at all, XYZP participants feel differently supported by XXXX University due to their participation in XYZP. XYZP participants and a similarly matched comparison group of non-participants have been surveyed longitudinally as part of this NSF S-STEM program grant. 79 XYZP participants and 53 matched non-participants were surveyed in early May 2020, two months into the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and shortly after the end of the Spring 2020 semester, on a wide array of variables including perceived sense of belonging and perceived sense of peer support. Point-biserial correlations were conducted on measures of perceived belongingness and peer support. Preliminary analysis suggests no observed relationship between XYZP participants and non-participant comparison students in either perceptions of belonging ( r= -0.02, p >0.05) or peer support (r =0.05, p > 0.05). We are currently examining a broader array of variables from the May 2020 survey. Additionally, XYZP participants and matched non-participants will be surveyed this fall, allowing for subsequent analysis of changes in belonging and peer support over time, as well as greater understanding of the impact of a longitudinal crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic on this population of students. This poster will focus specifically on differential effects of program participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This work is supported by an NSF S-STEM program grant.
McSpedon, M., & Beier, M. E., & Bradford, B., & Wolf, M. (2021, July), Differential Effects of Bridge Program Participation on Perceived Belonging and Peer Support for STEM Degree Seekers during the COVID-19 Pandemic Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/36981
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