Exposing STEM Students to Diversity Improves Innovation, Performance

Specific steps instructors can take inside and outside of the classroom to help students thrive


  • newswise-fullscreen Exposing STEM Students to Diversity Improves Innovation, Performance

    Credit: Bernard Santarsiero

    Students from University of Illinois, Chicago, who were involved in the STEM diversity initiative program

Newswise — COVINGTON, Kentucky, July 24, 2019 -- As technology and science continue to play an even greater role in everyday lives, training and developing the next wave of scientists needs to evolve. Noncognitive factors and new strategies to more fully engage each student and promote an inclusive classroom are being considered for improved learning experiences in STEM courses. 

During the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association, being held July 20-24, in Covington, Kentucky, Bernie Santarsiero, director of research initiatives for the office of the vice provost for diversity at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will talk about how resources other than remedial training can foster significant improvements in successful student outcomes. 

His presentation is part of a broader look at how diverse teams perform better in the workplace and how a culture of inclusion, specifically attracting and retaining members of underrepresented groups, including minorities, women, disabled, and LGBTQ employees, is more efficient in generating new products and patents. Santarsiero said developing and encouraging a diverse slate of students with an eye toward the future enhances innovation and performance.

“The lack of racial and ethnic diversity among students and faculty in STEM disciplines is an ongoing, unrecognized learning challenge,” Santarsiero said. “Re-evaluate and augment your course syllabus and teaching methods to address these factors.” 

His presentation during the conference session will focus on specific steps instructors can take inside and outside of the classroom. However, he says students need to be more motivated than just a grade and look beyond preconceived notions about how their courses are presented. 

“We need to support STEM students by embracing their cultural heritage, helping develop their social and networking skills, and recognizing and overcoming challenges of implicit bias, stereotype threat, and microaggression,” Santarsiero said. “Be flexible in every course and modify approaches to improve student success and increase student opportunity.” 

Santarsiero will feature how students at UIC are engaged to foster multiple intersectional academic and cultural identities and supported for ongoing success. He points out that some students fail in the classroom, termed the equity gap, because they lack a sense of belonging or being part of an education and cultural learning community. 

“Students should do more than survive in college. They should thrive.” 

Santarsiero is the co-primary investigator for L@S GANAS (Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science), a multifaceted program at UIC that focuses on the recruitment, retention and graduation of Latinx students in the fields of STEM. It was established out of the HSI STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Education. 

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The session, “Diversity & Inclusion – Diverse Teams Perform Better,” will be held at 9 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, July 24, in Ballroom C of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. 

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----------------------- MORE MEETING INFORMATION ----------------------- 

USEFUL LINKS 

Main meeting website: https://www.aca2019mtg.com/
Annual meeting program: https://www.aca2019mtg.com/program
Hotel bookings: https://www.aca2019mtg.com/travel-stay-participate 

PRESS REGISTRATION 

We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact the AIP Media Line at 301-209-3090. For urgent requests, staff at media@aip.org can help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, video or background information. 

ABOUT ACA 

The American Crystallographic Association was founded in 1949 through a merger of the American Society for X-Ray and Electron Diffraction (ASXRED) and the Crystallographic Society of America (CSA). The objective of the ACA is to promote interactions among scientists who study the structure of matter at atomic (or near atomic) resolution. These interactions will advance experimental and computational aspects of crystallography and diffraction. Understanding the nature of the forces that both control and result from the molecular and atomic arrangements in matter will help shed light on chemical interactions in nature and can therefore lead to cures for disease. See http://www.amercrystalassn.org

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