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Stemming Stereotype Threat: Recruitment, Retention, and Degree Attainment in STEM Fields for Undergraduates from Underrepresented Backgrounds

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Conference

2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference

Location

Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Undergraduate Track - Technical Session VI

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Undergraduate Education

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/29579

Download Count

452

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Paper Authors

biography

Najmah Thomas University of South Carolina, Beaufort

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Dr. Najmah Thomas
Najmah Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB). She is a full-time faculty member for the Human Services Program, which encompasses both the residential/on-campus and the Palmetto College Online degree completion programs. She is also the faculty member for African American Studies at USCB. Her research agenda includes social and economic equity with a focus on program evaluation practices, youth leadership development programs, and public policies impacting underrepresented populations, such as children in foster care and members of the Gullah/Geechee Community. 
 
Dr. Thomas earned a B.A. in Public Policy at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, a Masters of Adult Education and Distance Learning from the University of Phoenix, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in urban policy, at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA. 
 
Prior to her role with USCB, Dr. Thomas served as the Virginia Community College System's director for statewide Workforce Investment Act programs. She also served as Director of Capacity Building for the Cameron Foundation, and Deputy Director at the Crater Regional Workforce Investment Board in Petersburg, Virginia. 
 
Over the course of her career, Dr. Thomas' work has generated grants and contracts totaling more than $1.5 million. She was named a Southeastern Council of Foundations Hull Fellow, keynote speaker at the Virginia Career Coach Academy and Commencement Address speaker at Fortis College, Richmond, VA. In February of 2013, she received the Living Legacy Award from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She currently serves on the Penn Center, Inc. Board of Trustees, and is also a 2017 Fellow with the Institute for African American Research. 

Dr. Ronald Erdei:

Dr. Ronald Erdei (pronounced air-day) is an Assistant Professor of Computational Science at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. He completed his PhD in Computer and Information Technology at Purdue University in the summer of 2016, where he had been working and teaching for some years. As of Fall 2017, Dr. Erdei has been the instructor of record (under varying titles) for 14 computer programming or information technology courses. He has helped guide over 750 graduate and undergraduate students to develop not merely technical skills, but more importantly computational thinking abilities, critical thinking abilities, and problem decomposition skills widely considered fundamental to professional success in the modern 21st century workplace.

Dr. Erdei greatly enjoys teaching, and finds the processes involved in learning to be fascinating. His discovery efforts focus on these learning processes with much of his research lying in the learning sciences. Specific topics of interest include: instructional scaffolding in computing disciplines, cooperative learning in college students, pedagogical practices aimed at reducing barriers to the learning process, and optimization of educational content delivery for targeted populations.

Prior to entering academia, Dr. Erdei's career focused on data-centric information technology systems. He possesses just over a decade of industry and consulting experience, and has worked in the roles of application developer, database analyst, database architect, and database administrator.

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biography

Ronald Erdei University of South Carolina, Beaufort Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9350-5291

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Dr. Ronald Erdei (pronounced air-day) is an Assistant Professor of Computational Science at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. He completed his PhD in Computer and Information Technology at Purdue University in the summer of 2016, where he had been working and teaching for some years. As of Fall 2017, Dr. Erdei has been the instructor of record (under varying titles) for 13 computer programming or information technology courses. He has helped guide over 700 graduate and undergraduate students to develop not merely technical skills, but more importantly computational thinking abilities, critical thinking abilities, and problem decomposition skills widely considered fundamental to professional success in the modern 21st century workplace.

Dr. Erdei greatly enjoys teaching, and finds the processes involved in learning to be fascinating. His discovery efforts focus on these learning processes with much of his research lying in the learning sciences. Specific topics of interest include: instructional scaffolding in computing disciplines, cooperative learning in college students, pedagogical practices aimed at reducing barriers to the learning process, and optimization of educational content delivery for targeted populations.

Prior to entering academia, Dr. Erdei's career focused on data-centric information technology systems. He possesses just over a decade of industry and consulting experience, and has worked in the roles of application developer, database analyst, database architect, and database administrator.

visit author page

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Abstract

This study advances understanding about inclusion, equity and diversity in efforts to broaden participation, transform institutional leadership, and promote student-centered success strategies in academia. The researchers employed qualitative systematic review (QSR) to investigate key factors associated with recruitment, retention, and related career attainment in computational science and other STEM fields for undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds. The study is grounded in a review of the literature on stereotype threat in academic settings. Stereotype threat refers to being at risk of confirming, as a self-characteristic, negative stereotypes about one’s social group (Steele and Aronson, 1995). Mechanisms involved in stereotype threat include reduced working memory capacity, changes in physiological processes, lowered performance expectations, negative cognitions, and anxiety. Research suggests stereotype threat can be disruptive enough to impair intellectual performance for students, particularly in undergraduate STEM programs. Although research on the link between stereotype threat and STEM program outcomes is relatively new, initiatives have been implemented in a variety of post-secondary education settings with the goal of enhancing outcomes for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, using culturally-relevant cognitive and non-cognitive practices. In this study, researchers employ QSR to analyze findings across 25 case studies related to promising practices for reducing the impact of stereotype threat in STEM fields for undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds. This paper then presents a framework, derived from the findings of the QSR analysis, to describe a proposed theory of change for reducing stereotype threat in academic settings. Three areas are illustrated in the framework: campus institutional fabric and the role of institutional actors in mitigating stereotype threat; examples of evidence-based practices; and, potential STEM program and workforce outcomes. This framework offers a new perspective on the topic of inclusion and transforming institutional leadership in undergraduate STEM programs. The framework also has strong potential to transfer in other academic programs.

Thomas, N., & Erdei, R. (2018, April), Stemming Stereotype Threat: Recruitment, Retention, and Degree Attainment in STEM Fields for Undergraduates from Underrepresented Backgrounds Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://strategy.asee.org/29579

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