Attract Minority Students to STEM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.