New Orleans, Louisiana
February 20, 2022
February 20, 2022
July 20, 2022
Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions
Work in Progress IGE: Increasing Academic Success for Underrepresented Minority PhD Graduate STEM Students Through Self-Advocacy Education Carmen M. Lilley and Gregory Larnell, University of Illinois at Chicago Many underrepresented Minority (URM) graduate students, here defined as Women, Latinx and Black/African American students, in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) experience climates of intimidation throughout higher education institutions in the form of daily microaggressions and expectations of assimilation (defined as cultural conformation vs. social integration). Although the effects of chronic external stressors on increased mental health disorders and decreased physiological health is well known 1-3, evidence-based practices of support systems specifically for URM graduate students to reduce the effects of climates of intimidation are not common. Indeed, researchers have found that underrepresented minority (URM) students “would benefit if colleges and universities attempted to deconstruct climates of intimidation 4” and it has also been shown that teaching underrepresented minority students empowerment skills can improve academic success 5. As such, we present the initial work-in-progress review for a self-advocacy program for URM PhD graduate students in STEM that empowers, creates self-awareness, and educates on social justice. Self-advocacy is rooted in the theory of self-determination 6, 7. Self-determination theory posits that it is a person’s “inherent growth tendencies and innate psychological needs that are the basis for their self-motivation and personality integration, as well as for the conditions that foster those positive processes 7”. Research in self-determination has identified how “antagonistic” social environments undermine a person’s self-motivation, social functioning, and health/well-being. A comprehensive review of evidence-based practices for teaching self-advocacy within the learning disability (LD) communities found that there are three critical factors that, when combined result in increased academic success: empowerment (having control over decisions and life events), strong self-awareness (knowing what is right for oneself and setting goals based on this criteria), and social justice (knowing how to identify and challenge negative social climates and systems of oppression) 8. The same comprehensive review of evidence-based practice on teaching students with LD on self-advocacy found that LD student’s retention increased during critical transitions to post-secondary education or that they had increased participation in STEM disciplines, and also increased academic success. Within the education community, minority students that are trained in self-advocacy will have “strong self-worth and self-efficacy” and feel “empowered to challenge discriminatory social, economic, and political policies 9.” As a result, students will be retained through critical transitions and have increased academic success. As can be seen, teaching self-advocacy is a means to empower students that results in improved academic success and health and well-being 7. Within higher education, the LD community has implemented into practice teaching strategies and programs that develop self-advocacy skills. Students with LD that are taught self-advocacy skills have increased academic success in college and increase participation in STEM disciplines 6, 10-12. A comprehensive review of evidence-based practices for teaching self-advocacy 13 for communities of students with learning disabilities found that programs that develop skills in empowerment (Communication and Leadership), self-awareness (Knowledge of Self), and social justice (Knowledge of Rights), when combined, result in increased or improved self-advocacy skills in students. Based on these evidence-based practices, the central research question for this project is: Does teaching the three factors strategy for self-advocacy result in increased academic success, improved feelings of agency, and increased self-authenticity for URM STEM PhD graduate students? We aim to present the initial findings of the program as it was implemented in year one and discuss some of the effects that the pandemic had on programming and student participation.
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Lilley, C. M., & Larnell, G. V. (2022, February), Increasing Academic Success for Underrepresented Minority PhD Graduate STEM Students Through Self-Advocacy Education Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana. https://peer.asee.org/39123
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