Improving Underrepresented Minority Student Persistence in STEM

A recent essay published in The American Society For Cell Biology, CBE-Life Sciences Education describes the results of a review conducted by the Joint Working Group on Improving Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) Persistence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute tasked the group with an assessment of current data and consideration as to why the academic “pathways” leak more for URM than white or Asian STEM students.

Mica Estrada, PhD, assistant professor at the UC San Francisco School of Nursing in the Institute for Health & Aging and Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, led the group’s review. The findings propose expanding to include a stronger focus on the institutional obstacles that need to be removed and the types of interventions that “lift” students’ interests, commitment, and ability to persist in STEM fields. Using Kurt Lewin’s planned approach to change, the committee explains five recommendations to improve URM persistence in STEM at the undergraduate level. These suggestions capitalize on known successes, recognize the need for accountability, and are framed to facilitate greater progress in the future. To read more on the committee’s detailed findings and planned approach to change, see links below.


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