ASQ - Education Division

Understanding the Organizational Structure of STEM: Intervention Programs Impact on Service Delivery

Abstract: This paper is authored by Montrischa M. Williams, a doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

This study examines the extent to which the organizational structure of STEM intervention programs impact the way services are delivered to underrepresented students in STEM fields. This study utilizes data gathered in 2009 and 2010 through semi-constructed interviews with 55 program administrators at ten universities. Participants were asked questions regarding the history, goals, services, and outcomes of the program, as well as how the program is structured and funded.

Findings reveal that two types of structures, specifically physical/visible and organizational play a critical role in how services are delivered to students. The physicality and visibility of where the program is located on campus serves as a strategic tool to ensure students have easy access to program services or creates issues of access to STEM opportunities and services. Additionally the organizational structure, particularly the organization of the entity (i.e. who reports to whom, and how various aspects of services are delivered to students) impacts how services are delivered. These findings have significant implications considering the recent trend to increase access to underrepresented students in STEM fields and careers. Recommendations such as creating strategic marketing plans, centralizing program services, and re-locating STEM intervention programs offered.

Keywords: STEM - Student Support - Student Retention

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