About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 635-644
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain

A MULTICONTEXTUAL MODEL FOR INCREASING PARTICIPATION AND GRADUATION RATES IN STEM RELATED DISCIPLINES

E. Brown

Rochester Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
This paper argues that the pipeline leading to the production and increase of undergraduate engineering, computer science, and STEM related degrees by underrepresented student populations (which include female, African American, Latin American, and Native American students) has become more of a funnel. After almost four decades of affirmative action oriented programs, there is still a disconnect at most major research colleges and universities between the number of these students entering into the various STEM related disciplines as freshmen and the total number that successfully complete the baccalaureate STEM degree. Current programs address superficial/peripheral issues related to diversity (i.e., recruitment), but not the underlying sociological and anthropological aspects that lead to real solutions with permanent results (i.e., increased retention and graduation rates along with a more pluralistic campus environment where diversity is celebrated and embraced). This paper suggests that a model that emphasizes the latter will ultimately achieve the more desirable “affirmative outcomes” that previous affirmative-action oriented initiatives were originally put in place to accomplish.

The goal of this paper is to describe a model for bridging the “disconnect” described above by suggesting the solution lies in examining and modifying the culture of the engineering classroom and laboratory. Underrepresented students (and students as a whole) succeed in environments that are conducive to how they learn both culturally AND contextually. Thus, how engineering faculty proceed in teaching, training, and mentoring these students (and the mechanisms they use) is just as important (if not more so) than what they teach or research. The current political climate has prompted various media outlets to suggest that the United States is entering into a “post-racial” era. But it can be debated that the country is actually entering into a “pro-racial” era where it will be increasingly detrimental to American educational institutions to ignore issues related to diversity and cultural context, specifically where STEM education is involved. For these reasons, the author has created a rehabilitation robotics research laboratory as the primary mechanism for studying multicontextual learning as it relates to engineering education and diversity (Figure 1). Preliminary findings and observations from this endeavor will be discussed in this report as well as the engineering research projects pursued to achieve the author’s stated objectives.

The major research questions addressed by this report are: (1) What are the components necessary to create and sustain a successful academic model that encourages underrepresented student populations to complete the engineering baccalaureate degree and enter into a STEM related field, (2) How do you implement those components in order to move beyond the “add and stir” college recruitment/retention paradigm for increasing diversity, (3) What are the teaching and research methods required to address the needs of a diverse student population with diverse learning styles, and (4) How do you develop these methods into a formalized pedagogical system in order to cultivate a pluralistic engineering educational environment?
@InProceedings{BROWN2010AMU,
author = {Brown, E.},
title = {A MULTICONTEXTUAL MODEL FOR INCREASING PARTICIPATION AND GRADUATION RATES IN STEM RELATED DISCIPLINES},
series = {4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-5538-9},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {8-10 March, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {635-644}}
TY - CONF
AU - E. Brown
TI - A MULTICONTEXTUAL MODEL FOR INCREASING PARTICIPATION AND GRADUATION RATES IN STEM RELATED DISCIPLINES
SN - 978-84-613-5538-9/2340-1079
PY - 2010
Y1 - 8-10 March, 2010
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2010 Proceedings
SP - 635
EP - 644
ER -
E. Brown (2010) A MULTICONTEXTUAL MODEL FOR INCREASING PARTICIPATION AND GRADUATION RATES IN STEM RELATED DISCIPLINES, INTED2010 Proceedings, pp. 635-644.
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