Undergraduates from underrepresented minority (URM) backgrounds face a myriad of challenges and opportunities as they explore career pathways, particularly in the competitive and “chilly” world of STEM. For this presentation, we focus primarily on understanding more about how students experience mentorship and engagement in research. To investigate and gain insight into these phenomena, the researchers interviewed 35-45 students across two institutions, one small, private liberal arts college and one large research institution. Students shared what makes a research experience positive and meaningful, strategies they use to navigate developing and balancing identities they hold, and what impact mentoring interactions have on their experience in STEM. Building community, engaging in programming, the quality of student-staff interactions among others emerged as important themes from student interviews. If we as practitioners are serious about fixing the “chilly” climate of STEM fields and increasing retention of URM students, this is an area of research and practice that deserves institutional attention.
The data represented in this project was funded by a grant from the NSF.
Jehangir, Rashne; Stebleton, Michael; Collins, Kelly; Bartlett, Morgan.
STEM Stories: Underrepresented Minority Students Attending Predominantly White Institutions.
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