2022 First-Year Engineering Experience

Full Paper:Student Perceptions of Involvement, Identity, and Success in an NSF-funded STEM Access Program at Baylor University

Presented at Technical Session T1A

Full Paper: Involvement, Identity, and Success in an NSF-funded STEM Access Program

In the United States, attrition in STEM fields has been a point of growing concern. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a variety of programs aimed at bolstering access and success for STEM students (National Academy of Sciences, 2011; Olson & Riordan, 2012). Though few access programs evaluate involvement, student success literature evidences a clear relationship between involvement and success (Astin, 1999; Mayhew et al., 2016). Accordingly, our phenomenological study explored how high-achieving, low-income STEM students in an NSF funded STEM Access Program at Baylor University perceive and experience involvement and success in light of their multiple identities. Baylor University’s ECS Scholars Program currently supports two cohorts of 11 students pursuing degrees in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. As a part of the program, Scholars are engaged in student and faculty mentoring which allows them to meaningfully connect with a support network. In addition, students attend monthly seminars designed to help support their success in and outside of the classroom. These students’ experiences were explored via 60 to 90-minute in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and themed by the research team. Alternate data collection methods—including campus mapping, photo elicitation, and identity wheel construction exercises—complemented interview data and added additional depth and insight to student statements. Our collective analysis revealed that, in essence, involvement is an arena in which high-achieving, low-income STEM students prioritize and live out salient identities in alignment with their understandings of success. Such findings inform recommendations concerning how faculty and staff may broaden and reframe understandings of involvement to more effectively support the success of STEM students in similar access programs.

  1. Jessica Martin Baylor University [biography]
  2. Jana Roste Baylor University [biography]
  3. Mr. Austin T. Smith Baylor University [biography]
  4. Emily Sandvall Baylor University [biography]
  5. Ms. Andrea Pouso Morales Baylor University
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