Students double down on STEM careers after college summer bridge programs

Jan 26, 2019 by

A new study illuminates one powerful and effective way to address the STEM worker shortage and lack of diversity: Get students enrolled in bridge programs.

Students double down on STEM careers after college summer bridge programs

Students who participate in college STEM summer bridge programs are twice as likely to pursue a STEM career, compared with students who don’t.

That is according to a new national study, recently published in the Journal of College Student Development. Even more impressively, this significant boost in interest in STEM careers held true for a wide range of students, across gender, different races and ethnicities, and academic achievement levels—showing these programs could be key to diversifying STEM fields.

“We found that these programs had a big overall effect on college students’ interest in pursuing STEM careers, and had similar effects for students across diverse backgrounds,” said Joseph Kitchen, a postdoctoral research associate at the Pullias Center and the paper’s first author. “Our evidence indicates that STEM summer bridge programs are a promising strategy that could make a notable impact in closing the gender gap and attracting other underrepresented or marginalized groups to STEM fields.”

Kitchen co-authored the paper with Philip M. Sadler, a senior lecturer in Harvard University’s astronomy department and the director of the science education department, and Gerhard Sonnert, a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an associate of the Harvard University physics department. The researchers used data from 27 colleges and universities participating in the National Science Foundation’s STEM Talent Expansion Program.

“This study provides much needed evidence to inform data-based policies and practices to develop and expand STEM summer bridge programs ,” Kitchen said. “These programs could be key in addressing longstanding policy directives at the federal level to get more—and more diverse—folks interested in STEM careers”

This study is part of Kitchen’s ongoing research on the effectiveness of college outreach, transition and support programs.

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Kitchen, J. A. & Sadler, P. & Sonnert, G. (2018). The Impact of Summer Bridge Programs on College Students’ STEM Career Aspirations. Journal of College Student Development 59(6), 698-715.

Source: Students double down on STEM careers after college summer bridge programs – Pullias Center

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