Research Projects

Research projects will emanate from a core research hub consisting of three HBCUs (Morehouse College, Spelman College and Virginia State University), along with a participatory research model composed of 50 other HBCU participants. The Center will conduct convergence research using a Community-Based Participatory Research model to include education and knowledge transfer that will allow for the sharing of data and results to improve student outcomes across the HBCU network.

The Academic Pipeline Project, LLC houses a national database of academic pipeline programs, training, and enrichment opportunities that are beneficial for diverse K-12, college and graduate students as well as postdoctoral scholars and faculty. The STEM-US Center sponsors a subset of HBCU STEM programs. The success and benefits of each program are displayed the framework of the THRIVE Inventory tool.

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The ultimate goal of the STEM-US Center is to understand not only WHAT academic interventions are effective in helping HBCU students succeed but also WHY they work. While, the Center is administratively housed at Morehouse, the theoretical framing for the investigation of interventions and data interpretation and analysis is modeled on previous work done at Virginia State University.

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The purpose of the CUREs Project in STEM-US is to increase the use of CUREs in STEM courses by:

a. Offer context and resources for developing CUREs

b. Foster faculty and institutional growth

c. Facilitate concrete plan for development and implementation

d. Discuss barriers and catalysts to implementation

e. Provide a meaningful entry for HBCU faculty and staff to engage in undergraduate educational research

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Dr. Dickens will lead research in conducting intersectional research of HBCU STEM students through the Analytic Hub. Broadly, this research will explore psychosocial factors that impact academic success among HBCU STEM students. Specifically, examining experiences related to the intersectional identity of HBCU students and how it influences both their science identity and academic performance. This work will add knowledge concerning the unique experiences of Black students majoring in STEM at HBCUs, from an intersectionality perspective. This work will also help in the effort to broaden participation in STEM across HBCUs.

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Project Knowledge (PK) is a vertical mentoring program that seeks to transfer academic skills, behaviors and beliefs that are conducive to academic success. Although applicable for all students, the curriculum focuses on students of color. PK has statistically shown that first-time African American college students are more likely to persist in their STEM major if they remain in school through their first 3 contiguous semesters. Through a guided mentor/mentee relationship, our program increased the STEM graduation rate at Virginia State University (an HBCU) by 40% in the first cohort. As opposed to traditional methods of tutoring and remediation, PK focuses on emotional and motivational factors to help STEM freshmen become STEM graduates. For the first cohort of PK students, 67% graduated with a STEM major within 5 years, which is better than the 50% national average and also higher than 40% average at VSU. Because of the quantitative and qualitative results produced by PK for both mentees and mentors, the program now partners with a local high school, providing lower division STEM students at VSU, the opportunity to mentor STEM-interested high school students.

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The vision of the Program for Educating Emerging Researchers (PEER) is to diversify the STEM workforce by developing emerging researchers from groups that experience marginalization in STEM. To achieve this vision, we seek 1) to educate undergraduate, post baccalaureate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellows who are enrolled in STEM and education fields at minority-serving institutions, in the science of broadening participation research; 2) To engage PEER fellows in hands-on experiences with center-funded research projects under the guidance of faculty/staff within the center.

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Scientific literacy is a malleable term that varies in meaning based on the population. For the general population it is simply a basic understanding of science and how it operates around them, however, for students pursuing a STEM degree this term has a more robust meaning. Being scientifically literate as a STEM student means they will be able to develop science and scientific research, analyze and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations, participate in discourse, improve scientific reason and critical/creative thinking, and collaborate and participate in team building activities. The goal of this level of scientific understanding is to encourage a scientist identity and increase STEM self-efficacy.

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