Workshop Overview

This workshop will ask participants to help design a well-informed study of undergraduate student decision-making. In particular, the study will focus on critical decision points and the types of curricular planning and instruction for learning and teaching physical sciences that assist all students, including women, underrepresented minorities and first-generation students. The study will target the positive steps taken by students who are successful, in order to identify how all students can be supported. Project design will include:

  1. Bringing the expertise and experiences of AALAC/Mellon 23 schools to the fore
  2. Providing opportunities to learn from leading researchers in the field, and
  3. Engaging workshop participants in completing the project design during the workshop.

Workshop Goals

  • Networking and identification of commonalities/differences among liberal arts campuses.
  • Development and assessment of hypotheses about strategies that support successful students in STEM.
  • Comparison of strategies on each of our campuses to support students in STEM, with explicit discussion of the assumptions we made when developing these programs.
  • Generation of a plan for a future research agenda and a mechanism for pursuing it.
  • Dissemination of support strategies for student success.
In order to accomplish these goals, the workshop is designed with a significant preparatory component that will allow participants to share the work from their institutions that bears on the design of the study. Participants will arrive having reviewed these materials, and prepared to synthesize this information as a foundation for the program design. To facilitate the incorporation of current research methodologies in the study design, a leading researcher in the area will join the group for the full workshop. To develop the research plan, small groups will hash out ideas and record them in online workspaces that can be viewed by the group as a whole. The whole group will review these documents and engage in synthetic discussion, and then disperse to working groups to proceed in developing the plan.


Workshop: November 13-15, 2011
Application Deadline: September 23, 2011


Before the Workshop
  • Participants will be asked to take one or two successful students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM to lunch, to ask them about what has supported their success (questions will be provided).
  • Participants will be asked to prepare and upload a poster describing work going on on their campus. The poster will make clear assumptions made in designing the work and also how the findings bear on the workshop content and focus.
During the Workshop
  • Participate in all sessions and help design the study.
After the Workshop
  • Contribute to ongoing project efforts, as defined during the workshop.


The grant will cover the costs of attending (up to $850) for one person attending from each of the first 10 institutions to apply. If funds remain, they will be divided among additional attendees, with priority to those from institutions not in the first 10 to receive funding, next to those whose expenses exceed $850, and finally to second institutional representatives.

Application and Selection Criteria

STEM faculty members and others concerned with supporting STEM students at liberal arts colleges are encouraged to attend.


The workshop will take place at Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

For More Information

For more information, please contact Deborah Gross or Ellen Iverson.