The TxMI Speaker Series brings cutting-edge social science and education research to the UT community to spark discussions around representation and equity in teaching and hiring practices. The invited speakers are faculty, higher education researchers, and administrators from leading universities across the country, who all share a passion for educational equity and research that helps to improve the cultural inclusivity in classrooms for students and faculty alike.
Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Student Experience Project insights: Classroom interventions to foster belonging, growth, and academic success for all students
The Student Experience Project is a network of university leaders, faculty, and national education and improvement organizations working together to develop practical, evidence-based approaches to increase equity in students’ experiences of their learning environments and support academic success and retention. In this talk, Drs. Katie Boucher and Krysti Ryan describe how the project is leveraging learning from social-psychology to develop classroom interventions that foster belonging and growth for all students, and share insights about the impact on student experiences and outcomes from the first term of implementation.
Wednesday, Nov 11, 2021
Leveraging undergraduate learning assistants to promote STEM equity
How can undergraduate instructors be a resource for equity in large introductory courses? We first describe a training program developed for Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) at UT Austin in an introductory Chemistry course. We then report promising findings from an additional randomized-controlled “fellowship” for ULAs in this training program, focused on inclusive practices that come from social-psychological theory. The fellowship program was successful in changing undergraduate instructors’ practices. Further, Chemistry students randomly assigned to ULAs in the fellowship reported more positive engagement and comfort in discussion sections and fewer group disparities in the student experience. In addition, the ULAs themselves reported higher belonging in college compared to ULAs not assigned to the fellowship. This experiment provides some of the first evidence of the causal effects of inclusive teaching practices in gateway STEM courses. Discussion focuses on opportunities to replicate and spread the fellowship to other large, gateway STEM courses.
Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022
What explains the persistent underrepresentation of women in computer science and engineering?
Women and girls continue to be underrepresented in computer science and engineering, despite many efforts by universities, nonprofits, corporations, and government to close these gender gaps (National Science Foundation, 2020). Some have argued that the explanation for women’s and girls’ lower participation is their lower interest in these fields. Dr. Cheryan argues that the explanation that women and girls are “less interested” in these fields is incomplete and problematic.
First, she describes how the perceived and actual cultures of computer science and engineering contribute to women’s and girls’ lower participation. These inequitable cultures include masculine defaults, a form of bias in which characteristics or behaviors associated with the male gender role are valued, rewarded, or regarded as standard aspects of a culture. Second, she provides empirical evidence on how stereotyping women and girls as “less interested” contributes to further inequities in these fields. Increasing girls’ and women’s participation in computer science and engineering may involve attending to broader cultural factors that prevent women’s and girls’ full participation.
Wednesday, Feb 9, 2022
People & Purpose: Highlighting communal aspects of STEM can foster diversity and engagement
What matters to students, and how do they see different career pathways as fulfilling what matters to them? Our research investigates how people perceive social roles as fulfilling their valued goals; examining these perceived affordances allows a deeper understanding of role entry, engagement, and exit. In this talk, I will explore women’s lower representation in certain STEM fields, relative to men and to other fields, through the lens of goal congruity.
Gender roles emphasize communality for women, but STEM fields are consensually perceived as unlikely to afford communal goals such as prosociality or collaboration. These stereotypes about careers present both challenges and opportunities: When STEM activities integrate communal activities and purpose, individuals show greater interest, belonging, and engagement. Overall, science and engineering contexts that signal opportunities for both communal and agentic goals maximize flexibility and favorability. Considering the structural opportunities for individual goal pursuit provides a valuable vantage point to foster both broader participation and deeper engagement in STEM.
Wednesday, Mar 9, 2022
A Model for Dramatically Increasing Diversity at the PhD Level in Science and Engineering
Stassun will draw on his experiences as a nationally leading voice for diversity in STEM, including as a member of the National Science Foundation’s Committee on Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering, and as a member of multiple National Academies studies on Effective Mentoring in STEM and Promising Practices for Addressing Underrepresentation in STEM. He will also discuss how partnerships with minority-serving institutions, such as the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program which he co-directed for more than 10 years, can help to achieve the goal of increasing STEM diversity at the doctoral level.
During the discussion, Stassun will summarize three core strategies: (1) replacing traditional metrics in PhD admissions with indicators that are more predictive of long-term success; (2) partnering with minority-serving institutions for student training through collaborative research; and (3) using research-based mentoring models to support students to degree completion and beyond. These models and tools support the success of all PhD students.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Data are not enough: An initial approach to fostering and supporting a data-informed, student-centered institution
At UC Davis we are focused on supporting systemic change to improve undergraduate student outcomes. We are using a locally generated Cycle of Progress for sustainable change that consist of 4 cyclical phases – Awareness, Understanding, Action, Reflection, and repeat. Realizing there have many efforts focused on students but far fewer focused on helping faculty, departmental and university leaders, we saw a need to help faculty and faculty administrators better understand who their students are and the barriers challenging equitable outcomes.
In our efforts, we developed an approach to communicating student outcomes that looked at the intersectionality of first generation, low income and race/ethnicity variables on student short term and long term outcomes globally at our university. We are now extending the approach to course sequences in departments, curricular progressions and bottlenecks and individual faculty in their classrooms. This approach is guiding us in working collaboratively with faculty and faculty administrators while enhancing the use of existing resources to improve learning opportunities for students who have had limited opportunity prior to coming to our institution.
In the presentation I will focus on approaches to effectively communicating challenges to equitable outcomes, a basic understanding of the systemic factors challenging equitable outcomes and how analyses and tools aimed at multiple levels within the university can begin to guide the conversation and resources to help more of our students succeed.