June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.1147.1 - 11.1147.11
Status and Experiences of Minority Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, and Faculty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Disciplines
This study seeks to determine key factors influencing the career choices and experiences of underrepresented minority undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Special attention is given to exploring factors influencing decisions to move along paths leading to the professoriate. Questions being studied include 1) what are the key factors influencing minority students' decisions to pursue graduate study in STEM, 2) what are the key factors influencing graduate students' decisions to select the STEM professoriate as a career choice, and 3) what are patterns in the experiences of minority graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty in STEM disciplines, with particular attention to experiences in engineering fields?
Focus groups and interviews with STEM undergraduate students, doctoral students, and recent doctoral alumni were conducted on two campuses to better understand their experiences before, during, and after graduate school. While most doctoral students primarily interact with others in their department, minority students formed a community across campus through the NSF- sponsored Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) and similar programs. All students commented that success in doctoral programs requires a different skill set than what allowed for success in undergraduate programs. Such skills include working with others, and developing alliances with student and faculty colleagues. Students generally learned these skills through experience, but felt that universities should do more to encourage such habits early in a student’s career.
Related research includes current studies by Prof. Christine Grant (North Carolina State University) on minority faculty, Prof. Fitzgerald Bramwell (University of Kentucky) on baccalaureate origins of natural science doctorates, and Associate Dean Janet Rutledge (University of Maryland – Baltimore County) on attrition rates of minority graduate students. Future work on this project includes working with and expanding the aforementioned studies, and conducting an online survey of graduate students on various campuses. The outcomes of this study will include a set of educational best practices and improved policy recommendations. While such information will be targeted at minority students, it is expected that many recommendations will help to improve the graduate school experience for all students.
In the United States, the minority doctoral student population in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines significantly lags behind its representation in the overall population. National Science Foundation1 and Census Bureau2 data show that, while the population of Blacks and Hispanics in the United States is 12% and 13%, respectively, in STEM doctoral programs these groups only account for 5% and 4.8% of the doctoral student population. These minority student populations have increased slightly over the past decade, but are still
McAfee, L., & Ferguson, D., & McAfee, L. (2006, June), Status And Experiences Of Minority Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, And Faculty In Science, Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics Disciplines Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1247
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