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A Scholarship Model for Student Recruitment and Retention in STEM Disciplines (Yelamarthi & Mawsha 2010)

Citation

Yelamarthi, K., & Mawasha, R. (2010). A Scholarship Model for Student Recruitment and Retention in STEM Disciplines. Journal of STEM Education, 11(5 & 6), 25–32.

Highlights

  • This paper evaluated the effects of the Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Scholarship (CSEMS) program at Wright State University (WSU) on educational outcomes.
  • The study used academic records from the university to compare educational outcomes of CSEMS participants and nonparticipants of similar background at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • The study found that undergraduate program participants were more likely than traditional undergraduate students to secure a grade point average higher than 2.7.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the CSEMS program. Other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Scholarship (CSEMS) Program

Features of the Intervention

The CSEMS program was initiated in 1999 in an effort to increase recruitment, retention, and academic excellence of underrepresented minority and female students studying and pursuing careers in STEM disciplines. The program includes scholarships, career orientation workshops, cooperative and internship programs, and academic and social support. Students must apply and be accepted to participate in the program. Selection criteria include both noncognitive and cognitive factors. At the time of the evaluation, the program had served 32 undergraduate and 7 graduate students.

Features of the Study

The researchers used academic records from the university to compare the mean outcomes of CSEMS program participants with those of underrepresented minority students who did not participate in the CSEMS programs. The study sample included 39 program participants and 114 underrepresented minority students who did not participate in the CSEMS program but were pursuing degrees similar to those of CSEMS participants.

Findings

  • The study found 90 percent of CSEMS undergraduate program participants secured a grade point average higher than 2.7 versus 63 percent of traditional undergraduate students.
  • There was little difference in grade point averages between graduate students, all of whom secured a grade point average over 3.0.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors compared the mean outcomes of CSEMS program participants with the mean outcomes of nonparticipants. However, other than being of the same minority group and having similar majors, the authors did not provide other evidence to suggest that the two groups were similar before program participation. To provide such evidence, the authors could have demonstrated that the two groups did not differ on age, gender, and indicators of previous academic performance. This would give us more confidence that the two groups were similar before program participation, so that any observed differences in outcomes after program participation could be attributable to the program and not underlying differences between the groups.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the CSEMS program. Other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

November 2014