A Dream Deferred: How access to STEM is denied to many students before they get in the door

February 7, 2013 at 1:28 am 8 comments

A realistic description of the barriers into STEM for students who are not from the schools that are expected to succeed.  I can believe that these kinds of problems exist. Figuring out a way around them is the hard part.

This type of pre-judging of students happens all too often. Students from poor and poorly performing school districts, students who wear sagging pants or speak slang or with accents, students that may not make good grades, students from single-parent/multi-generation homes – these kids are denied an opportunity to participate at the gate.  I cannot count the number of students I have encountered who have promise but absolutely no idea where to start or how to get started.

I have seen in at the high school and college level  – professors that turn away students with GEDs or those who struggle academically, but who show up anyway. So many students who have been dismissed or passed over by teachers, guidance counselors, and professors because s/he may not be polished enough for top-level science. (Whatever that means.)

via A Dream Deferred: How access to STEM is denied to many students before they get in the door good | The Urban Scientist, Scientific American Blog Network.

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Berners-Lee calls for computer science education for children Special issue of ACM TOCE on Computing in Schools

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Don Davis (@gnu_don)  |  February 7, 2013 at 8:15 am

    And as for CS… Many less affluent students who are able to attend college begin with community colleges. Unfortunately, there is little or no pipeline from community colleges to STEM degrees at four year institutions (Dowd et al., 2010).

    Dowd, A. C., Malcom, L. E., & Macias, E. E. (2010). Improving transfer access to STEM bachelor’s degrees at Hispanic serving institutions through the America COMPETES Act. Los Angeles, CA: University of California, Rossier School of Education.

    • 2. Stephen Gilbert  |  February 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Don; I noticed (in a footnote), that this article only counted students who first earned an Associates degree before transferring. At our community college, we have between 40 and 60 students transfer to 4-year CS programs each year, but the number of students who earn an Associates degree is always less than 5. These are students who have completed a full two years at our school.

  • 3. Don Davis (@gnu_don)  |  February 7, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I am glad that this article was shared in this venue. Given my experience in schools, these are the concerns I begin with. This makes it difficult to find meaningful middle ground with CS educators and researchers who seem to feel that the secret to remedying CS underrepresentation lies in getting a few more students from Calculus AB to take CS classes.

  • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  February 7, 2013 at 9:34 am

    These are certainly the concerns that motivate Betsy DiSalvo’s work, too. Don, do you know about CAITE in Massachusetts? (http://www.caite.info). They’ve had a lot of luck increasing the CS pipeline from 2-year to 4-year schools, especially for Hispanic students.

    • 5. Don Davis (@gnu_don)  |  February 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

      I’m familiar with several of her articles (especially in regards to gaming). I’ll certainly pay closer attention to her in future. No, I haven’t seen CAITE. I’ll certainly take a closer look. Geographically, I’m closer to CAHSI http://cahsi.cs.utep.edu/ and perhaps consequently more familiar with their work.

  • 6. Bonnie  |  February 7, 2013 at 11:13 am

    The students described in this article are my students. I work with them everyday. Trying to get this population through a computer science degree is a great cause, but there are some very large issues. By the time they get to college, it often is too late. They are seriously underprepared in so many ways, from basics like reading and study skills, to personal issues stemming from family problems and basic poverty. Every semester, I have students who disappear for weeks at a time because their mom needed a babysitter, or they were evicted, or other issues like that. If we want to truly give this cohort a chance, we have to realize that they are going to probably require more time to finish, and that fewer of them probably will finish at all. For a school facing pressure on time-to-graduate and retention, this is a risky population. It is really sad, because some of these students do succeed and deserve the chance. We need to be doing something differently, but I don’t know what it is.

  • […] A Dream Deferred: How access to STEM is denied to many students before they get in the door (computinged.wordpress.com) […]

  • […] A Dream Deferred: How access to STEM is denied to many students before they get in the door (computinged.wordpress.com) […]


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