Just the Stats: How Effective Are STEM Pipeline Programs? - Higher Education
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Just the Stats: How Effective Are STEM Pipeline Programs?

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by Olivia Majesky-Pullmann


Bridging the racial gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM fields, has become a priority for two organizations: the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the Model Institutions for Excellence. 

The National Science Foundation founded LSAMP in 1991 to support and increase the number of minority students pursuing advanced degrees in the STEM disciplines. NSF funds the program in five-year phases ranging from $300,000 to $1 million. Participant universities are awarded funds based on their proposals to increase minority participation in STEM degrees. 

In 1991, LSAMP supported fewer than 4,000 students and gave grants to six institutional alliances. By 2006, there were 35 alliances involving more than 450 institutions and thousands of minority students. The alliances are divided into various sections, including citywide (New York City), statewide (North Carolina) and multi-state (Florida-Georgia). Students who receive stipends engage in LSAMP-sponsored activities to support their academic enrichment and research skills. 

Based on data from the NSF, in 1991 minority enrollment in STEM fields reached 35,670 students. By 2003, there were more than 205,000 students enrolled in STEM fields, a 470 percent increase. In 2004-2005, roughly 24,642 LSAMP students earned degrees.

LSAMP STEM Bachelor Degrees by Race/Ethnicity: 2004-2005

Discipline

Black

Hispanic

Native American

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

More Than One Race Reported – Minority

Total

Agricultural Science

310

386

84

25

8

813

Chemistry

468

526

44

15

2

1,055

Computer Science

2,686

1,642

162

182

15

4,687

Engineering

3,007

3,922

364

160

14

7,467

Geosciences

50

135

13

7

205

Life/Biological Sciences

3,457

4,042

435

292

25

8,251

Mathematics

618

612

112

45

3

1,390

Physics/Astronomy

96

299

19

5

1

420

Environmental Science

92

194

58

8

2

354

Total

10,784

11,758

1,291

739

70

24,642

Source: National Science Foundation, Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, 2006

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The LSAMP model is comprised of the following components:  Pre-college programs, student academic support, student professional development, mentoring, faculty development, curriculum reform, orientation to graduate studies and linkages to community colleges.  

In 2006, The Urban Institute wrote a report, “Revitalizing the Nation’s Talent Pool In Stem,” an analysis of the student outcomes in the LSAMP program for participants who graduated between 1992 and 1997. 

Dr. Beatriz Chu Clewell, the principal investigator and director for program evaluation and equity research at the institute, says, “The LSAMP model addresses dual goals:  the retention of underrepresented minority students in STEM through the completion of a baccalaureate degree, and their subsequent enrollment in a STEM graduate program. It accomplishes these goals through a series of interventions that simultaneously increase students’ academic and social integration into college and socialize them into the scientific profession. The evaluation data show that this model is extremely successful; LSAMP participants actually outperform their minority and White counterparts on several measures of success.”

These are their key findings:

Higher Grade Point Averages

On average, as measured by GPA, LSAMP student’s outperformed non-LSAMP underrepresented minorities as well as Whites and Asians among national STEM baccalaureate holders. A little more than half of LSAMP graduates had a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above.  By comparison just 27 percent of underrepresented minorities not involved in LSAMP and 42 percent of Whites and Asians had similar GPAs. 

More Likely to Pursue Post-Baccalaureate Work

STEM students who participated in the LSAMP undergraduate programs were more likely than non-participants to enroll in post-BA courses (almost 80 percent vs. 62 percent among non-LSAMP) and pursue a graduate degree (65 percent vs. 45 percent).  LSAMP students were also more likely to pursue graduate degrees in STEM:  38 percent sought graduate degrees in STEM compared with 20 to 22 percent among the national comparison groups (non-LSAMP underrepresented minorities and whites and Asians, respectively). The balance sought degrees in fields like business and social sciences.

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LSAMP Students Earn More Graduate Degrees

Based on the 2002 LSAMP Graduate Survey, roughly 45 percent of participants had completed graduate degrees, compared to 18 percent and 20 percent of two national comparison groups comprised of underrepresented minorities and whites and Asians, respectively.

The below figure compares LSAMP participants, national underrepresented minorities (non-participants) and national Asians and Whites in terms of three important outcomes: (1) took graduate coursework, (2) pursued graduated degrees and (3) completed graduate degrees. As the table suggests, LSAMP students outperformed their two national comparison groups on all three outcomes, overall and for STEM fields.    

Check back next week for information on MIE.



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com

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