Increasing Employer Inclusivity by Investigating Motivation to Participate in Geoscience Disability Communities of Transformation
Effective Years: 2023-2026
To address the Nation’s need for solutions to the complex problems that face American citizens, expert STEM workers from many sectors and communities are needed. Education must engage young people from diverse cultures to train in science and problem-solving so they can pursue the many challenges of the world around us. Geoscience is the disciplinary home from which to study the many resources we depend on, from air, water, and minerals, to safeguarding communities from natural hazards such as earthquakes. Innovative STEM education can support the development of the skills and knowledge needed to catalyze basic research into applied solutions. To be effective, we cannot exclude possible workers because of perceived barriers. This project addresses the need for increased inclusion of persons with disabilities in STEM, specifically in the geosciences. This pilot project will use the model of Communities of Transformation, a type of community of practice, to better understand the organizations that promote access and inclusion in geoscience for people with disabilities. Research will also address the motivation of geoscience employers regarding access and inclusion in the workplace. The pilot is planned to include surveys and interviews, including students and employers, to learn participants’ attitudes on disability.
This project through Northern Illinois University will work to increase the capacity of academic institutions to engage disabled students with aptitudes in STEM to access educational pathways into geoscience careers. To support that activity and to conduct associated STEM education research the Principal Investigator (PI) will pursue learning experiences that will build her capacity in STEM education research. The professional development plan targets five areas: education models, mixed research methods, statistical analysis, mentoring, mentoring graduate students in education research, and developing and disseminating aligned manuscripts. The goal is to use these skills to increase the inclusion and accessibility in geosciences of persons with disabilities by decreasing the impact of perceived barriers to inclusion in education and workforce. The PI plans to research the motivation of communities supporting such outcomes, including geoscience employers. In addition to the PI, there is a team of four expert advisors that will meet bi-monthly reviewing and evaluating progress on methods, project data, address of disability issues and geoscience education, as well as mentoring and guiding the PI. Project outcomes will be made available through regular participation in appropriate professional conferences, publications in the journals of associated communities, and through data and other research products archived (de-identified) in the grantee institution’s library system repository.
The project is supported by NSF Education Core Research: Building Capacity in STEM Education Research (ECR:BCSER) program, which is designed to build investigators’ capacity to carry out high-quality STEM education research.
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.