Significant disparities for women and race/ethnicity groups have been prevalent in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, a problem that has reached national attention for many years. Although there are increasing numbers of women and other underrepresented groups studying the STEM fields, there are still a gender and racial/ethnic gap in STEM degree completion rates. Recent data has shown that although underrepresented students may be interested in STEM, many drop out once in a post-secondary institution. While there are many stages at which potential STEM workers exit the pipeline and potential policies to minimize barriers, this proposed study focuses on summer bridge programs as an intervention that can mitigate attrition, particularly of historically underrepresented students (URM). Summer programs (sometimes called summer bridge programs) are programs aimed at preparing high school students for college and are an under-researched interventions that have the potential of increasing recruitment and persistence in STEM. As such, this research analyzes ways post-secondary institutions can better the diversity in their STEM disciplines by focusing on pre-college preparation and retention of historically underrepresented high school students by considering the case of a summer bridge program. This summer bridge program prepares URM students for STEM by focusing on mathematical readiness, building essential skills, exposure to college culture, and building lasting relationships with peers and staff. This dissertation uses a mixed-methods approach consisting of analysis of surveys and interviews as well as empirical investigation of student outcomes using matching estimators. The results of this analysis anticipate serving post-secondary institutions to better their recruitment, persistence, and graduation rates of URM in STEM via summer programs.
Table of Contents
The STEM Pipeline: Literature Review and Conceptual Models
Existing Policy and Summer Bridge Programs
Quantitative Research and Analysis of the MSP using Postsecondary Institutional data
Qualitative Research and Analysis of the MSP
Interview Protocols and IRB approval