Establishing Legitimacy among STEM Intervention Programs: The Need for Evaluation
Abstract: "Establishing Legitimacy among STEM Intervention Programs: the Need for Evaluation" by Casey E. George-Jackson, Ph.D. and Blanca Rincon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For the ASQ Education Division's 2011 Advancing the STEM Agenda in Education, the Workplace and Society Conference.
Intervention programs designed to improve undergraduate students’ participation and success in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields exist in colleges and universities throughout the United States. These programs seek to attract and retain traditionally underrepresented students including women and minorities through supplemental services including tutoring, mentoring, research, and social support networks. This study examines the extent to which such programs conduct evaluations of their program or services, and how evaluations impact the legitimacy of intervention programs. Drawing upon interview data with 55 program directors and administrators at ten large, public, research universities, the findings suggest that many programs rely on anecdotal information to inform program changes due to financial and human resource constraints. The results also suggest a relationship between programs that do conduct evaluations and their long-term sustainability, ability to garner support from upper-level administrators and secure recurring funding, all of which impact the program’s legitimacy. These findings have significant implications given the current economic climate, institutional cutbacks and reduction of services, and the need to increase the number of STEM degrees granted, particularly to underrepresented students. Recommendations, such as partnering with other departments and colleges to conduct evaluations, are offered.
Keywords: STEM - Survey results - Student Retention - Conference Proceedings