Broadening Participation in the US and UK Keys to Growing Underrepresented Student Populations in STEM

Rachel Burcin, Angela M. Keiser, Mel Siegel, Alexandra Clochard, Rachel Burcin, Angela M. Keiser, Mel Siegel, and Alexandra Clochard Yao
tech. report CMU-RI-TR-13-17, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, April, 2013


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Abstract
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of the West of England (UWE) formed a Prime Minister’s Initiative grant award (PMI2) team to undertake a year-long exploration of common challenges, promising practices, and keys to growing the underrepresented student populations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in the United States and the United Kingdom. The aim of the collaboration was to characterize, compare, and contrast US and UK approaches that were designed to achieve broad participation in university-level STEM education. From this collaboration, each university partner would be free to develop and apply future programmatic methodology to its student populations based on demographic, university and policy context. Although Carnegie Mellon University and the University of the West of England both function in the higher education arena, interest areas for information gathering in this project differed for each partner. For this investigation, the CMU focus was the advancement to graduate education of underrepresented undergraduate student populations in STEM disciplines to graduate education. On the education continuum from secondary school through higher education (i.e. undergraduate, graduate and terminal degree), UWE expressed particular concern with the progression of students from low social economic backgrounds and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups from secondary school to higher education (HE) in STEM fields. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are recognized as critical drivers of economic growth in developed nations. STEM and its applications are vital to the prosperity of both the US and UK. In both nations, patterns of aging, retirement, immigration, and demographic growth are altering the composition of the STEM labor force. The US and UK face critical STEM domestic skills gaps and intensifying global competition for STEM talent. Left unaddressed, this has the potential to wreak havoc on US and UK competiveness and living standards. Broadening/ widening participation (BP/WP) of underrepresented groups in STEM fields are national imperatives. For the PMI2 CMU-UWE team, this experience brought to light successful US and UK university promising practices of broadening / widening participation . The promising practices identified in this collaboration address issues from the entire student lifecycle (i.e. student engagement, education, recruitment, retention, employability, progression to graduate studies, and career success). These practices were collected from a cross-section of higher education institutions representing a range of Carnegie Classifications (i.e. size, setting, research activity), not-for-profit organizations, and national advocacy networks (Carnegie Foundation). Student populations ranged from predominantly white to majority students of color. Of special interest was team learning visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and discussion of potential US-UK-HBCU partnerships. HBCU leadership holds unique expertise on effective practices that support the entire lifecycle of minority students, from transition to college life through engagement, education, recruitment, retention, employability graduate studies to professional life. During their decades-long course of support of minority education and advancement, HBCUs have incorporated into their campus cultures and alumni relations, effective lifelines for STEM student success and progression. The HBCUs that were visited, offered this experience for further investigation, as a cornerstone to build inclusive academic communities. Both the US and UK governments and industrial sectors have invested heavily in STEM education and workforce development. Universities also have a special role to play to ensure that all students have access to rigorous STEM education and the opportunity to experience the thrill of scientific discovery. The US and UK are facing related issues and policy agendas. The similarities and differences that emerge from each nation’s social and political histories enrich the conversation and the learning opportunities. It remains clear that US and UK universities are natural partners in education, research, and industry.

Keywords
broadening participation, widening participation, STEM skills gap, education, underrepresented groups in STEM fields

Notes
Sponsor: Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education, and the British Council.
Note: This exploration of promising practices in broadening / widening participation was made possible by a grant (#NPF138) from the UK-US New Partnership Fund, which was part of the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education, and managed by the British Council.

Text Reference
Rachel Burcin, Angela M. Keiser, Mel Siegel, Alexandra Clochard, Rachel Burcin, Angela M. Keiser, Mel Siegel, and Alexandra Clochard Yao, "Broadening Participation in the US and UK Keys to Growing Underrepresented Student Populations in STEM ," tech. report CMU-RI-TR-13-17, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, April, 2013

BibTeX Reference
@techreport{Burcin_2013_7445,
   author = "Rachel Burcin and Angela M Keiser and Mel Siegel and Alexandra Clochard and Rachel Burcin and Angela M Keiser and Mel Siegel and Alexandra Clochard Yao",
   title = "Broadening Participation in the US and UK Keys to Growing Underrepresented Student Populations in STEM ",
   booktitle = "",
   institution = "Robotics Institute",
   month = "April",
   year = "2013",
   number= "CMU-RI-TR-13-17",
   address= "Pittsburgh, PA",
   Notes = "This exploration of promising practices in broadening / widening participation was made possible by a grant (#NPF138) from the UK-US New Partnership Fund, which was part of the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education, and managed by the British Council."
}