Levelling the Playing Field in STEM: Post-transfer Success for Underrepresented Racial Minority Community College Transfers
Effective Years: 2022-2027
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program is a National Science Foundation-wide activity that offers awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization, and to build a foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. This CAREER project will examine psychological and social factors that are influential to post-transfer success for underrepresented transfer students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Community colleges offer essential pathways toward bachelor’s degrees in STEM. Previous studies have focused on creating effective transfer pathways for STEM students, especially students from historically underrepresented populations, but significant challenges remain regarding the transfer experience after enrollment at four-year institutions. Using an asset model that emphasizes student strengths and traits, this project will identify facilitators and barriers associated with underrepresented STEM transfer students’ success and degree completion. Findings will advance knowledge and scholarly contributions to the literature. Through collaboration with student affairs administrators and professionals, this project will also develop and implement tailored institutional strategies to promote post-transfer success among underrepresented students in STEM.
Empirical data will be used through a multi-phase, mixed-method design to accomplish research goals. In each research phase, validated surveys will be administered to measure key psychosocial factors such as STEM self-efficacy, STEM identity, transfer stigma, social and cultural capital, and transfer receptive culture. Transfer students’ retention and academic performance will be tracked over the project years and then matched with survey data. Multiple rounds of qualitative interviews will be conducted with STEM transfer student participants to supplement and contextualize quantitative survey findings. An integrated theoretical model will be developed and tested to reveal how psychosocial factors influence STEM success and post-transfer success, and how such influences may differ between groups that are and are not underrepresented in STEM. Research findings will be interrelated with educational activities, including a STEM transfer success program and development of online resources. The educational activities will inform higher education leaders and promote action in fostering a transfer receptive culture in four-year institutions.
This project is funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. This award is also funded in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2).
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.