Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Mary Ellen Batiuk
The underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers constitutes a major issue in postsecondary science education. Perseverance of women in STEM is linked to a strong science identity. Experiential learning activities, such as undergraduate research, increase science identity and thus should help keep women in STEM. Most studies on research program development are from 4-year institutions, yet many women start at community colleges. The goal of this study was to fill this gap. Science identity and experiential learning theories provided the framework for this case study at a local institution (LECC). Semistructured interviews determined college science faculty and administrators perceptions of advantages and disadvantages of undergraduate research, the viability of developing a research program, and specific research options feasible for LECC. Transcripted data were analyzed through multiple rounds of coding yielding five themes: faculty perception of undergraduate research, authentic experiences, health technologies/nursing programs, LECC students career focus, and the unique culture at LECC. The most viable type of undergraduate research for LECC is course-based and of short timeframe. The project study advocates the use of citizen science (CS) studies in the classroom as they are relatively short-term and can take the place of lab sessions. The true benefit is that students perform authentic science by contributing to an actual scientific research project. CS projects can effect social change by developing science literate citizens, empowering faculty to create authentic learning experiences, and by sparking interest in science and directing women into STEM careers.
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