December 17, 2009

Report Outlines Practices That Have Strengthened STEM Offerings at Minority-Serving Institutions

By: in EdTech News and Trends

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A critical component to building an American workforce with 21st century skills through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate education is already being demonstrated successfully at several minority-serving institutions (MSIs)—Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). During the past three years, MSIs continue to take steps that help to further improve America’s global competitiveness and increase equity, especially among minority students, in STEM education.

A new report, Diversifying the STEM Pipeline: The Model Replication Institutions Program, released by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), describes effective practices and policies that have enhanced and strengthened the STEM offerings at nine MSIs.

These institutions participate in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Model Replication Institutions (MRI) initiative, which builds on best practices in STEM undergraduate education identified previously by a NSF- and NASA-supported, 11-year-old program called the Model Institutions of Excellence (MIE). The participating MRI minority-serving institutions include: Alabama A&M University, Navajo Technical College, New York City College of Technology, Northwest Indian College, Paine College, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, Stillman College, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, and Universidad del Turabo.

“Clearly, a driver of the future global economy is STEM and a way to close the gap in STEM degree completion rates is by tapping into underrepresented minorities who are the fastest growing segment in our population,” IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. said in a statement. “These institutions have set an excellent example of how to increase student enrollment and graduation rates while remaining committed to expanding and diversifying the STEM workforce and closing the achievement gaps in the STEM fields among Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.”

Key Practices to Improve STEM Education among Minority Students
The report finds that the nine MRI minority-serving institutions replicated the following seven components from the MIE model to improve their STEM programs:

  • Precollege Initiatives. Prepare matriculating students to succeed in college and introduce students to STEM disciplines and careers.
  • Student Support. Provide social, financial, and academic assistance to students.
  • Undergraduate Research. Enable students to become directly involved in ongoing research.
  • Faculty Development. Support recruitment, retention, and professional development of STEM faculty.
  • Curriculum Development. Align curricula with accepted content standards and concepts relevant to the marketplace, the community, and the student population.
  • Physical Infrastructure. Upgrade and maintain facilities and equipment.
  • Graduate Programs and Science Career Initiatives. Facilitate admission to and retention in STEM graduate programs and careers.

Diversifying the STEM Pipeline: The Model Replication Institutions Program offers several recommendations—geared toward institutions, private foundations, researchers, and federal and state policymakers—to improve recruitment, retention, graduation, and matriculation into STEM graduate programs or careers.

Some suggested approaches include strengthening mathematics preparation through K-12 partnerships, providing statewide opportunities to share best practices, and investing in institutional data capacity.

Diversifying the STEM Pipeline: The Model Replication Institutions Program is available for download here.

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