Cover: The Impact of a Summer Program on the Development of Historically Underrepresented Minorities in STEM

The Impact of a Summer Program on the Development of Historically Underrepresented Minorities in STEM

Published Jan 12, 2023

by Claudia Elizabeth Rodriguez-Solorio

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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.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2022 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Matthew Baird (Chair), Dionne Barnes-Proby, and Margarita Pivovarova.

This publication is part of the RAND dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.