Broadening Access to STEM and Geoscience through Support for the Whole Student

Thursday 3:15pm REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Teaching For Diversity


John McDaris, Carleton College
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
Heather Macdonald, College of William and Mary
Over the last decade, the percentage of students from underrepresented minorities (URM) graduating with geoscience degrees has increased dramatically. But progress has been faster across the whole of STEM and in neither case does the percentage approach the overall demographics of the US. While the reasons why students do not succeed in these majors are often complex and interrelated, initiatives using holistic approaches have shown the most success in supporting students of all kinds, with particular effectiveness in supporting women and students from underrepresented minorities from entry to graduation and/or transfer. These holistic programs address motivation to succeed, sense of belonging and efficacy, and access to and acquisition of disciplinary knowledge.

Both Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Two-year Colleges (2YCs) can play an important role in increasing the diversity of geoscience graduates where there are appropriate degree programs or pathways to programs. In both contexts, there are degree options which include elements of geoscience present in many institutions even where there is no "geoscience" department. In addition, the strategies that are bearing fruit at many of these institutions are consistent with the recommendations of the Engagement-Capacity-Continuity framework for supporting the whole student developed by Jolly et al. (2004). In particular, common themes arising in these programs include:
  • Attracting students to the discipline: Proactive marketing around career opportunities and outreach to local feeder institutions
  • Supporting students through graduation: Community building, mentoring and advising, transfer support, academic support, and funding support
  • Preparing students for careers: Research experiences, internships, alumni or industry interactions, and real-world project

Web resources with information on supporting the whole student are available via the InTeGrate website ( and the SAGE 2YC website (

Presentation Media

Broadening Access to STEM and Geoscience through Support for the Whole Student (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 21.6MB Jul16 15)