June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Minorities in Engineering
The [withheld] Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, first funded in 1991, through implementation of best practices is now in its fifth phase of encouraging and supporting the program’s underrepresented minority (URMs) participants with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors at the three Alliance members. Since 1991, [withheld] LSAMP program has supported about 8,728 undergraduates for one or more semesters of their undergraduate studies and the institutional partners have awarded over 15,053 STEM degrees to URMs.
LSAMP’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) priorities have morphed over the 25 years from focusing on increasing the number of enrolled STEM majors to increasing the number of STEM baccalaureate degrees to increasing the number of STEM graduates who attend and complete graduate level work. The Alliance’s activities and best practices include interventions to address increasing recruitment and retention, increasing and incorporating undergraduate research opportunities (to increase interest in graduate school), and providing outreach opportunities to K-12 and community colleges. Creating learning communities, establishing international academic relationships to provide STEM research opportunities for participants, increasing community college involvement through support of STEM students as a recruitment tool while providing a seamless process for transfer to 4-year institutions, and focusing on retention of these STEM transfers are all areas of LSAMP’s current focus.
Best practices from the Alliance’s program have yielded five themes than can be institutionalized at different sized campuses with different demographics. The Alliance quickly found that all goals could not be implemented in the same ways at each institution due to size and demographic characteristics inherent to each institution. The themes that have emerged include pre-college (K-12) outreach and recruitment efforts, undergraduate research, learning communities, international research experiences, and community college recruitment, transfers, and retention. It became apparent during the first two phases that involving pre-college and community college interests was an effective recruitment process while creating and building productive, cooperative partnerships with these institutions. The learning communities emerged as a result of recruitment and support for first-time-in-college and transfer students to be successful in their gateway and STEM courses. Cohorts were also a product of the learning communities as the students built support networks within their major disciplines. Inclusion of academic and summer undergraduate research experiences provided opportunities for students to experience the application of their knowledge to real-life situations and to see what graduate school could offer as a way to improve their success in academia or the work force. The international research experiences provided opportunities for students to leave their "comfort zones" of home to venture to other countries to conduct research on topics not found at their home universities. Community colleges received more focus as the phases progressed due to the realization that they were the "feeder" sources for the universities and that the relationships needed to be cultivated to yield more transfers in the STEM disciplines.
Merriweather, S. P., & Lamm, H. A., & Walton, S. D., & Butler-Purry, K. L., & Kelley, J., & Thomasson, K. E., & Rausch, J. D., & Pezold, F., & Harris, K. T. (2017, June), TAMUS LSAMP Project: 25 Years of Success - Finding and Implementing Best Practices for URM STEM Students Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28904
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