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Attract Minority Students to STEM

What is the current demographic situation? »

Start Early

One problem with attracting students to STEM majors is that by the time they reach college age, they have lost interest in science and math, been turned off by a bad experience, or been convinced that they aren't good at them. One way to counteract this is to target resources at the middle and high school years to help keep young people engaged in science by doing science. College STEM departments have found success by sponsoring science fairs, running summer science and math camps or field trips, and implementing dual credit programs with local high schools. These and other similar strategies increase the number of students who reach college with positive science and math experiences and the ability to visualize themselves in a STEM career.

Recruitment Strategies »
The Building Strong Geoscience Departments project has compiled a list of useful recruitment strategies suggested by participants at workshops on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors and Strengthening Your Geoscience Program.

Introductory Courses

An increasing body of research is pointing to the important role of introductory courses in drawing students into a major or driving them away. The quality of teaching and faculty engagement with students can be very influential in bringing students into the major. One study has gone so far as to call this effect "majoring in a professor." Conversely, a faculty member who does nothing but lecture and doesn't actively engage students in an introductory course can turn potentially interested students away, not only from majoring in that subject but from science as a whole.

Given that students of color cite attention from and interaction with faculty as one major contributing factor in their persisting in a STEM major, it is likely that quality introductory courses are even more important for attracting them. To capitalize on this effect, departments and divisions should know who their best teachers are and convince them to teach introductory courses.

On the Cutting Edge: Introductory Courses »

The On the Cutting Edge project has collected community expertise on teaching introductory geoscience courses through a series of professional development workshops and assembled this resource full of ideas for designing a new course, spicing up an existing course design, or adding innovative activities or teaching methods.

Student-Instructor Classroom Interaction »

The On the Cutting Edge Classroom Observation Project has developed a set of pages about what "reformed teaching" looks like in the classroom, including what this means for the interactions between students and faculty.

Starting Point: Teaching Introductory Geoscience »

The Starting Point project has developed an array of modules on particular teaching methods that are effective in teaching introductory geoscience classes. There is a discussion of what each technique is, why you might want to use it, and how to do so combined with a collection of teaching activities that make use of it.

Use Societal Issues

Societal issues like environmental justice, sustainability, and environmental ethics are of great interest to today's students, and underrepresented minority students are no exception. Helping students feel some agency in addressing these inherently interdisciplinary issues provides a great hook to engage students in real-life inquiry in the classroom.

Inspire Your Students to Make a Difference through Civic Engagement in Societal Issues »
Help your students make connections between what they learn in the classroom and the 'real world,' get involved in the community, and prepare students for the workforce with hands-on experience.




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