ECR Projects

Explore past and current fundamental STEM education research projects across the three research areas that NSF's EDU Core Research (ECR) program funds, as well as across ECR funding types. Other search filters draw from both NSF's data and the ECR Hub's hand coding of award abstracts.

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STEM Learning and Learning Environments STEM Learning and Learning Environments  Broadening Participation in STEM Broadening Participation in STEM

Broadening Participation in STEM: Intersectional and Institutional Influences on Underrepresented Minorities' College and Career Pathways in Longitudinal Perspective

Effective Years: 2015-2022

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-wide activity that offers awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. In a post-recession context of rising income inequality, the importance of a college degree to the attainment of financial stability remains critical. This project looks at ways to address this continuing problem for underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduate students in STEM disciplines at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT). The research is significant since college achievement, persistence and career attainment in STEM remain unequal by gender, race/ethnicity, and family income, both within and across group categories. Therefore, this research will examine continuing intersectional inequalities and explore what can be done to improve institutional policies and practices that might be promoting such conditions at VT. This research aligns well with the university President's Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council?s agenda, recently reorganized to advance a bold agenda for providing advocacy for inclusion programs and services throughout the university system.

The principal investigator's (PI) research will capitalize on the inclusion agenda through two overarching goals. The first goal is to identify and examine individual and institutional influences that lead to variance in college persistence, graduation and career outcomes by gender, race/ethnicity, and family income. The second goal is multi-tiered and aims to increase the number and diversity of professionals conducting STEM research through training and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students. This goal also increases the use of mixed-methodology by graduate and undergraduate students relative to postsecondary research; career trajectories; and the retention, graduation, and successful career attainment among targeted URM. This study is potentially transformative in that existing studies focus more on monolithic explanations for male or female pathways rather than intersectional inequalities.

The PI builds this project on an intersectional framework combining theories of structure and sociological gender theory to examine how the confluence of individual beliefs (meanings and utility) and institutional practices (policies and programs) in the college context affect student achievement, persistence, and college and degree attainment across categories of difference. The PI will use longitudinal in-depth interviews and secondary survey data to examine these individual and institutional factors. The in-depth interviews will be conducted in five waves with 500 URM undergraduate students. Additional focus group interviews will be conducted by dyads of peer interviewers. Surveys will be specific to VT and include multi-year common datasets as well as those administered to freshman, seniors, and other class levels on student enrollment, persistence, graduation rates, and financial aid. Data from the interviews and surveys will be analyzed to determine what steps VT might take to increase the participation of URM undergraduate students in STEM careers. The findings will also be disseminated nationally and internationally to fill gaps in the literature about how addressing intersectional inequalities might substantially improve URM participation in STEM.