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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Utilizing Equitable and Inclusive Design Principles to Promote STEM Identity of Community College Transfer Students

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Research suggests that developing an identity as a person in STEM is necessary for learners from marginalized groups to persist in STEM education and careers. These learners may perceive that their race, gender, or other characteristics make it difficult for their peers and supervisors to recognize them as scientists or engineers, thus disrupting their ability to maintain successful degree progress and to pursue their STEM career aspirations. Here we discuss the specific ways we designed inquiry workshops to not only clarify difficult core STEM content, but to also promote learners’ competence, performance, and targeted recognition as scientists. Our workshops were designed for students interested in chemistry, climate science, physics, and toxicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Workshops for Engineering & Science Transfers (WEST) 2019 program. In designing our workshops, we focused on promoting the scientific identities of our learners by incorporating authentic ways for students to receive recognition from both peers and instructional facilitators, as well as allowing students to tap into their own personal interests and values. Insights from our designed assessments for learners’ understanding of our content demonstrate the success of our initiatives and provide further areas of improvement. Our goals are to create inclusive workshops to support students from all backgrounds, with emphasis on underrepresented backgrounds (community college, first generation, students of color, women, and LGBTQ+ students, etc.) as well as support them in other contexts, such as when mentoring STEM students in academic laboratory settings.

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