“Staying in Science” with the American Museum of Natural History

There is a growing and unmet demand in the labor market for college graduates with degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); yet, few students pursue and earn such degrees. Attrition is particularly pronounced among students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields including Black and Hispanic students (Carnevale et al., 2011; Chen, 2013; Hurtado, Eagan, & Chang, 2010; Whalen & Shelley, 2010).

Broadening participation and increasing diversity in STEM is essential. Research has shown that students tend to not pursue STEM beyond requirements if they do not have opportunities to attach personal meaning or otherwise see relevance in STEM (Basu & Barton, 2007; Campbell, Denes, & Morrison, 2000; Costa, 1995). The Science Research Mentoring Programs (SRMP) Consortium includes 15 programs providing science research experience opportunities for under-resourced, high potential youth across New York City. These programs are referred to as “communities of practice” where students gain experience with scientific language, tools, and practices and come to identify as members of that community.

REPS serves as the steward of institutional data for the “Staying in Science” project. As a complement to the research team’s extensive qualitative work, REPS provides information on formal learning experiences and achievements. REPS will also serve as a consultant on future comparative analyses aimed at measuring the effect of participation in an SRMP program on high school and postsecondary outcomes.

Research Questions:

  • What is the relationship between features of the communities of practice and youths’ social networks, measures of academic achievement, and youths’ pursuit of a STEM Major?
  • Are certain features of these communities of practice more or less successful for different types of students?
  • What features work best to support persistence in STEM? For whom do they work best, why, and in what ways?

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K-12 Learning & Instruction, STEM Pathways