ERIC Number: EJ850012
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: N/A
Change Institutional Culture, and You Change Who Goes into Science
Habrowski, Freeman A., III; Maton, Kenneth I.
Academe, v95 n3 p11-15 May-Jun 2009
In the late 1980s, the University of Maryland Baltimore County launched a major initiative to find out why more students were not succeeding in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics--known collectively as the STEM disciplines--despite the university's long-standing commitment to those fields. A review of student data revealed that the performance of African American students in particular was substantially below that of white and Asian students. So the authors convened focus groups made up of students, faculty, and staff to learn more about student underperformance, and they followed up with meetings among department chairs and faculty to consider strategies for supporting students better. The authors recommended several measures: encouraging group study; strengthening tutorial centers; having faculty give students feedback early in the semester; raising admission standards; helping students appreciate how much time and effort are required to be successful; and enhancing the first year experience by, for example, improving orientation and explaining how to succeed as students. Within a broader context, they set out to create a cohort of African American students in science and engineering who would become leaders and role models for the nation. Bringing about substantive change requires approaches ranging from data-driven assessment of student achievement to ongoing conversations within the university community about such issues as race, gender, and socioeconomic background. They also learned the importance of using a strengths-based (rather than a deficits-based) approach to discussing the status and role of minority groups on campus, including the value they bring to their institution. The involvement of influential faculty members and administrators was critical as they developed strategies for evaluating the first-year academic performance of students in science and rethinking their approach to academic advising. The Meyerhoff Program has generally benefited students in science, thanks in part to its creation of an empowering setting.
Descriptors: African American Students, Focus Groups, Minority Groups, Organizational Culture, Organizational Change, Educational Strategies, Science Course Improvement Projects, Educational Improvement, Improvement Programs, Student Improvement, Change Strategies, Science Achievement
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland