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 Microclimates of Intersectional Inclusivity: Modeling Interrelated Programmatic Features and their Relationships to Racial Academic Disparities

Effective Years: 2022-2025

Persistent racial disparities are notable across STEM fields from who receives undergraduate degrees to the unequal opportunities and outcomes that hamper scientists’ careers later in life. Past research shows that contact with faculty, advising, and undergraduate research can reduce racial inequities, but it is not clear whether and how these work in all STEM fields. This project will explore how experiences like these create “STEM microclimates” for undergraduates with intersecting identities including race, gender, income, and first generation status. This research will develop models to assist universities with creating and fine-tuning programs to better support underrepresented and marginalized groups in STEM fields. This project will provide an approach for universities to more effectively use data to examine and adjust policies and practices that affect STEM racial inequities. The project will also provide a model for how universities can do this work in close collaboration with racially marginalized and minoritized communities who are most affected by racial disparities.

This project uses an innovative approach to quantitatively model intersectionality with institutional, transcript, and survey data spanning over a decade. The research project examines STEM microclimates centered on student experiences and outcomes related to intersectional inclusivity, or the extent to which academic programs support students from varied intersectional social locations in relation to the resources and opportunities to pursue their academic degrees and future careers. Project goals include (1) modeling and disaggregating longitudinal patterns of ethnoracial disparities and their relationship to interrelated gender and socioeconomic disparities in STEM fields that are connected to the everyday interactions and academic engagement of racially marginalized and minoritized students, (2) strengthening the conceptualization of intersectional inclusivity as an organizationally-embedded feature identifiable in the academic structures of STEM microclimates differentially experienced by students, and (3) addressing past limitations of quantitative applications of intersectionality theory through modeling of STEM microclimates with longitudinal data and latent variables. Beyond advancing the use of critical theories and melding them with quantitative modeling strategies to examine STEM inequities, the emphasis on intersectional social locations of students embedded within organizational contexts contributes to knowledge about leveraging student voices through quantitative data that speak to the nuances of intersectionality. Research and programmatic components of the project ensure that analyses, sense-making of findings, and the implications are made in collaboration and partnership with those most affected by systemic inequities in STEM fields such that scientific and policy-relevant knowledge are generated in conjunction with institutional transformation promoting targeted and effective strategies to make STEM fields more racially equitable.

This project is funded through the Racial Equity in STEM Education program (EHR Racial Equity). The program supports research and practice projects that investigate how considerations of racial equity factor into the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce. Awarded projects seek to center the voices, knowledge, and experiences of the individuals, communities, and institutions most impacted by systemic inequities within the STEM enterprise. This program aligns with NSF’s core value of supporting outstanding researchers and innovative thinkers from across the Nation's diversity of demographic groups, regions, and types of organizations. Funds for EHR Racial Equity are pooled from programs across EHR in recognition of the alignment of its projects with the collective research and development thrusts of the four divisions of the directorate.

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.