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NSF INCLUDES: Leveraging Precollege STEM Programs for Broadening Participation in Undergraduate STEM

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2021 CoNECD


Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 2 Slot 4 Technical Session 2

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

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Paper Authors


Alaine M. Allen University of Pittsburgh

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Dr. Alaine M. Allen is an educator who opens doors for students, particularly individuals from groups historically marginalized in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and she is committed to creating a culture of inclusive excellence in STEM environments. Dr. Allen is the director of K-12 Outreach and Community Engagement in the University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering and a co-director of the Broadening Equity in STEM Center at the University of Pittsburgh, a center charged with creating a national network for STEM precollege programs and a local network of undergraduate STEM programs designed to broaden participation. Dr. Allen has a Bachelor of Science degree in physics education from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Education degree in policy, planning and evaluation and a Doctor of Education degree, both from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Jennifer Iriti University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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Jennifer Iriti, Research Scientist and Director of the Evaluation for Learning Group at the University of Pittsburgh, designs and manages mixed-methods evaluations of education initiatives in PK-20 settings to support educational policy- and decision-makers. Most recently, she has focused evaluation efforts on programs that support postsecondary access and success, such as the Pittsburgh Promise and as Co-PI for an NSF INCLUDES grant to increase college access for underrepresented populations in STEM. She holds a doctoral degree in Developmental and Educational Psychology and a certificate in Interdisciplinary Policy and Evaluation from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Mackenzie Ball University of Pittsburgh

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Mackenzie is the Director of Outreach and Alumni Engagement for the University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information. Mackenzie is responsible for the strategic planning, creation, implementation, and overall management of the school’s plan and vision for outreach and alumni engagement, including all school-wide events focused on outreach and diversity. She oversees diversity programs and the recruitment of high school students and under-represented groups to the School of Computing and Information. Also, she manages the school’s alumni engagement and events, including alumni communications and scholarships. Mackenzie is the Program Director for the school’s Technology Leadership Initiative, Advisor to the Women in Computer Science Club and the Computer Science Club, and the Chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Western PA Affiliate and Academic Alliance member. Lastly, Mackenzie was senior personnel on an NSF INCLUDES DDLP “Diversifying Access to Urban Universities for Students in STEM Fields.” and 2019 – 2024, and is currently Senior Personnel “NSF INCLUDES Alliance: The STEM PUSH (Pathways for Underrepresented Students to HigherEd) Network” ($10,000,000). She is also a member of the leadership team for the University of Pittsburgh's Broadening Equity in STEM Center (BE STEM).

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Rebecca Gonda University of Pittsburgh

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Lack of racial and ethnic diversity in STEM fields is a national problem. Precollege STEM programs (PCSPs) offer a solution because they enable students to participate in enrichment and research experiences that impart analytical and critical thinking skills and habits-of-mind that increase STEM exposure, engagement and self-efficacy. Yet while many PCSPs are successful in attracting and retaining underrepresented minority (URM) high school students, PCSPs have not been leveraged to increase the number of URM students admitted to undergraduate STEM programs. Participating URM students, even when demonstrating significant learning gains and mastery, may not be accepted for admission to the institutions that host these programs due to policies that filter out applicants based on SAT scores and high school GPAs instead of prioritizing more culturally relevant criteria. In this presentation, we report on the results of a National Science Foundation Design and Development Launch Pilot (DDLP) that built a pathway for underrepresented students to enter STEM university programs and eventually STEM careers through the attainment of four aims: (1) create a community engagement framework to help recruit underserved students to precollege STEM programs, (2) develop a STEM Success Matrix that identifies student competencies acquired in precollege programs that prepare students for collegiate success in STEM, (3) develop a model to credential precollege programs based on their ability to prepare students in alignment with the STEM Success Matrix, and (4) develop a model to communicate the value of students’ precollege program participation for consideration within holistic admissions review at research universities. During this presentation, the DDLP team will share the results of each of these aims, including key tools and artifacts that may be useful to other programs, such as a research-based community engagement framework, a STEM Success Matrix and PCSP quality standards for broadening participation.

Next, the presenters will share the conceptual design for scaling the work of the DDLP nationally through a recently-announced NSF Alliance, the STEM PUSH Network. The evidence-based quality standards for STEM precollege programs along with a mounting body of research calls for a transformation in college admissions processes to reduce bias, account for diversity, and maximize access of urban minority students to selective colleges. The STEM PUSH Network forms the first national collaborative of PCSPs, STEM and culturally responsive pedagogy experts, college admissions officers, and higher education representatives. With our partner organization, the STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice (SLECoP), this Alliance will leverage the existing national network of STEM ecosystems to transform admissions pathways for URM students in urban ecosystems. Together we will build both a powerful collaborative improvement space using the networked improvement community (NIC) model and a “next generation” accreditation model that will serve as a mechanism for communicating the power of precollege programs to admissions offices. Combined, this NIC + accreditation will change the university admissions review system by providing an evidence-based, equitable alternative to the current, culturally biased, standardized test score-based system.

Session attendees will benefit concretely by having access to the resources developed during the DDLP and will be pushed to think about how precollege STEM programs and university admissions in their own contexts might be strategically linked with the STEM PUSH Network to strengthen the broadening participation power of precollege programs. Overall, this presentation will seek to spread awareness of the STEM PUSH Network and connect with other individuals and organizations who might partner in this transformational work.

Allen, A. M., & Iriti, J., & Ball, M., & Gonda, R. (2021, January), NSF INCLUDES: Leveraging Precollege STEM Programs for Broadening Participation in Undergraduate STEM Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . 10.18260/1-2--36111

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