ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF A MULTICULTURAL ONLINE STEM COURSE ON STUDENTS' SCIENCE IDENTITY
Xhilda Xhemali1, Sarah Alkholy1, Fidji Gendron2, Tanya Dahms3, Maria Pontes Ferreira1.
1Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 2First Nations University of Canada, Regina, SK, CA, 3University of Regina, Regina, SK, CA.
The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce in the United States has few individuals in underrepresented minorities (URMs; e.g., African, Latin, and Native Americans). This may be due to a lack of cultural support during students’ education, which makes it difficult to self-identify as scientists. When cultural support is provided in a STEM course, there may be a greater commitment to a science career. This study will assess the impact of a multicultural online STEM course on students’ science identity. We hypothesize that ultimately, non-White students will improve their self-identification as scientists. We conducted a pilot study of students (n = 11) in a multi-institutional, online STEM course. A spring, 2014 quasi-experiment will be conducted on a larger number of students. The culturally sensitive course is offered at two mainstream and two Tribal universities. Pre- and post - course surveys are administered to participants. Student science identity will be assessed and analyzed by ANOVA. Due to the low number of pilot participants, statistical power was low. However, our preliminary data demonstrates trends. The post-course survey data show a weak trend that White students are more interested in STEM than non-White students (p = .80). Furthermore, non-White students show a trend to self-identify as a scientist more so than White students (p = .31).The preliminary trends suggest that a multicultural STEM course may play a role in students’ science identity. URMs demonstrated a possible relation between their ethnic and science identities. The findings suggest that a culturally sensitive STEM course may positively affect students’ scientific self-identity. The upcoming spring, 2014 intervention study will test this hypothesis.