Priming the Pump or the Sieve - Higher Education Research Institute

Priming the Pump or the Sieve: Institutional
Contexts and URM STEM Degree Attainments
Sylvia Hurtado
Kevin Eagan
Bryce Hughes
Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA
A National Imperative
National Academies (2011) report Expanding Underrepresented
Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent
 Establishes most of the growth in the new jobs will require science and
technology skills
 “Those groups that are most underrepresented in S&E are also the fastest
growing the general population” (National Academies, 2011, p. 3).
 In an effort to achieve long-term parity in a diverse workforce, they
recommend a near term, reasonable goal of improving institutional efforts
to double the number of underrepresented minorities receiving
undergraduate STEM degrees.
A National Imperative
2012 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report,
Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates With Degrees In
Science,Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics
 Increasing the retention of STEM majors from 40% to 50% would, alone,
generate three-quarters of the targeted 1 million additional STEM degrees
over the next decade.
 Retaining more students in STEM majors is the lowest-cost, fastest policy
option to providing the STEM professionals that the nation needs.
 Changing productivity levels means changing practices, and mindsets from
priming the sieve to priming the pump, or talent development.
Purpose of the Study
• Identify the faculty and institutional characteristics that
contribute to higher rates of STEM degree completion,
particularly among underrepresented groups,
controlling for students’ entering characteristics.
• Identify challenges and opportunities to prime the
pump and improve the use of “evidence-based”
Literature Review: Student-level
 Pre-college experiences
 Strong high school curriculum
 High test scores and grades
 Advanced courses in science and mathematics
 High aspirations for a STEM degree
 URM students less likely to access AP courses, yet equally or
more likely to aspire to a STEM degree
Literature Review: Institutional-Level
 Faculty pedagogies
 STEM courses tend to utilize teacher-centered pedagogies
 Introductory STEM courses perceived as “gatekeepers” to STEM degrees
 Student-centered pedagogies key to retaining women and URM students in STEM
 Minority-targeted STEM retention programs
 Generally improve probability of URM STEM degree completion
 Mixed results regarding improving URM academic performance
 Undergraduate research experiences
 Found to be one of the most effective contributors to increasing URM STEM completion
 Benefits to students participating in undergraduate research may be conditional depending
on timing and duration
 Minority-serving institutions (MSIs)
 HBCUs in particular provide a unique atmosphere that supports Black students’ degree
 Research is beginning to demonstrate benefits for other URM students attending other
categories of MSIs
Literature Review: Are Selective Institutions
Better for URM Students?
 More selective universities have higher graduation rates
 URM students also graduate at higher rates from more selective
 More recent studies have found conditions that indicate this benefit
does not apply across the board
 Wider usage of multilevel modeling in higher education research has
shown single-level modeling overstates the effects of selectivity
 Selectivity was found to be negatively related to four-year retention of
women of color in STEM
 Biomedical and behavioral science students attending more selective
institutions were slightly but significantly less likely to be retained in these
programs to their fourth year
 Yet many recent multilevel studies continue to confirm selectivity
positively predicts higher probability of graduation
Percentage of 2004 STEM Aspirants Who Completed STEM Degrees
in Four, Five, and Six Years, by Race/Ethnicity
4-Year Completion
5-Year Completion
6-Year Completion
All students (N=56,499)
White (N=39,160)
Asian American (N=7,621)
Latino (N=3,863)
Black (N=4,695)
Native American (N=1,160)
Data Source: 2004 Freshman Survey, 2010-11 National Student Clearinghouse; HERI, UCLA
• Longitudinal Data on STEM Aspirants
• Individual level: 2004 Freshman Survey, CIRP merged with
completion data from the National Student Clearinghouse
• Sample: 58, 292 students across 353 institutions
• Faculty Data: 2007 & 2010 HERI Faculty Survey from 659
institutions, with STEM Supplement for over 10,000 STEM
• STEM Best Practices Survey – administered to STEM deans and
department chairs at our participating campuses
• Institutional Data obtained from IPEDS, Aggregates of Faculty, and
Aggregates of Peer characteristics from students entering the same
institutions in 2004.
 Dependent Variable:
 STEM completion compared to:
 Bachelor’s completion in non-STEM field
 No bachelor’s degree completion-includes students still enrolled (major
not known)
 Measured at four, five, and six years to reflect differences in
time to degree
 Independent variables
 Background characteristics
 Pre-college preparation and experiences
 Aspirations and expectations
 Intended major
 Aggregate peer effects
 Institutional characteristics
 Faculty contextual measures
 Best practices in STEM
 Analysis
 National weights
 Missing data with multiple imputation
 Multinomial HGLM
 Limitations
 Intended rather than declared major
 NSC data – no information on term-to-term major
 No college experience measures
 Few high school preparation variables
 BPS data reported by STEM Deans and Dept. Chairs
Key Findings for Four Year Completers:
 Denser concentrations of MD aspirants and larger campuses
negatively predict STEM completion
 Differences by race
 Latino (-), Black(ns)
 Asian/Pacific Islander (+)
 Other race (+)
 Women (-)
 HS grade (+), and effect enhanced by faculty use of student-
centered pedagogy
 SAT, years of HS math and biology (+)
Key Findings for Four-Year Completers:
 MD aspirant (+) but effect mitigated by faculty grading on a
curve and selectivity (-) condition
Ph.D./Ed.D. aspirant (+)
Law degree aspirant (-)
Engineering, physical sciences, health tech/nursing, and
computer science (+)
Pre-med, pre-pharm, pre-dental, pre-vet (-)
Key Findings for Five-Year Completers:
 Drop in predictive power of institutional size
 Non-sig difference between Latino/other groups and White
Decrease in gender gap
Decrease in salience of SAT
Decrease in gap between BA/BS aspirants and law/medical
Changes regarding majors
 Engineering increased gap, more likely to complete in 5 years
 Physical science, health tech/nursing, and computer science gap
decreased compared to biomedical aspirants
Key Findings for Six-Year Completers:
 Decreased salience of institutional size
 Closing of gender gap
 Women at selective institutions have lower STEM completion
rates than women at less selective institutions
 Drop in gap between medical degree aspirants and BA/BS
Key Findings for Four-Year STEM
Completion versus No Completion
 Control: private (+)
 Research-focused (-) vs. comp. masters
 Concentration of STEM undergraduates (-)
 Institutional size (+)
 Pct. of faculty involving undergraduates in research (+)
 Selectivity (+)
 Racial differences: Native American and Latino (-); Asian
American (+)
 Black (-), mitigated by HBCU (+) and selectivity (-)
 Women (+)
 Low/Low-middle income (-); upper-middle (+)
Key Findings for Four-Year STEM
Completion versus No Completion
 HS GPA, SAT scores, years of math and bio (+)
 Expect to transfer (-)
 MD aspirant (+), mitigated by faculty grading on a curve (-)
and selectivity (+)
Masters degree aspirant (+)
Law degree aspirant (-)
Engineering and pre-med/pharm/dental/vet (-)
Health tech/nursing (+)
Key Findings for Five-Year STEM Completion
vs. No Completion
 Loss of significance: institutional control, concentration of
STEM undergraduates, size, percentage of faculty involving
UGs in research
Expanded gender gap (women +)
Expanded gap between low-income and middle income
Reduced salience for SAT composite
MD aspirations become less salient
Increased predictive power of planning to live on campus
Only academic major difference: premed/pharm/dental/vet (-) compared to biosciences
Key Findings for Six-Year STEM Completion
vs. No Completion
 Size and faculty’s involvement of undergraduates in research
significant (like in 4-year model)
 Racial gaps persist, African American and Native Am (- incr.)
 Gender gap declines and is moderated by selectivity (+)
 Predictive power of MD aspiration drops further, as does law
degree aspiration
URM Six Year Completers in STEM
Compared With Non-STEM Completers:
 Concentration of premedical undergraduates (-)
 MD aspirants (+), but MD aspirants at more selective institutions less likely
to stay in science than MD aspiring peers at less selective institutions
Law degree asp. (-) vs. BA/BS aspirants
Engineering aspirants (+) vs. biological sciences,
HS GPA (+), and higher achieving students complete at even higher rates on
campuses where STEM faculty used student-centered pedagogy more often
SAT Composite and years of HS math (+)
Females (-)
Academic self-concept (+)
No significant differences between URM groups among completers in STEM
vs. Non-STEM
URM Six Year Completers in STEM Compared with
 STEM faculty that involve undergrads in research (+)
 Selectivity (+)
 HS STEM outreach programs at institutions (-)
 Native Americans (-) vs. Latina/os
 Women (+)
 English Native speakers (-)
 Health technology/nursing majors (-) vs. life sciences majors
 HSGPA, years of HS math, and academic self-concept (+)
 Intend to live on campus freshman year (+)
Contexts Matter
Selective institutions can improve productivity. They promote
degree completion, but students are not more likely to complete in
a STEM degrees.
Premed Phenomenon
Students who begin premed at institutions are more likely to
complete in STEM, are less likely to complete in STEM at selective
institutions, high % of premeds causes students to switch from
STEM among four year completers—presumably a talented group.
Supportive Environments Work!
 Minority engineers are more likely to be retained in STEM if
they complete college compared to bioscience aspirants.
 Having an undergraduate research program has an effect on
retaining minority students in STEM (and quicker degree
 Faculty student centered pedagogy was important to staying
in STEM for high-achieving minority students.
 Grading on curve particularly hurt premed aspirants, they
were more likely to leave STEM at institutions where used.
In order to produce 1 million more STEM degrees, we
have to address diversity and equity in attainments and
improve access to STEM careers.
Call for evidence-based teaching practices in STEM.
New initiatives by AAU and APLU indicate great interest
in “demonstration campuses” that can make
transformations to increase productivity of STEM degrees.
Contact Information
Sylvia Hurtado
Mitchell Chang
Postdoctoral Scholars:
Kevin Eagan
Josephine Gasiewski
Graduate Research Assistants:
Tanya Figueroa
Gina Garcia
Juan Garibay
Felisha Herrera
Bryce Hughes
Cindy Mosqueda
Papers and reports are available for download from project website:
Project e-mail: [email protected]
This study was made possible by the support of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH Grant Numbers 1 R01
GMO71968-01 and R01 GMO71968-05, the National Science Foundation, NSF Grant Number 0757076, and the American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH Grant 1RC1GM090776-01. This
independent research and the views expressed here do not indicate endorsement by the sponsors.

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