Improving Underrepresented Minority Student Persistence in STEM

Members of the Joint Working Group on Improving Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) Persistence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-convened by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute-review current data and propose deliberation about why the academic "pathways” leak more for URM than white or Asian STEM students. They suggest expanding to include a stronger focus on the institutional barriers that need to be removed and the types of interventions that "lift” students' interests, commitment, and ability to persist in STEM fields. Using Kurt Lewin's planned approach to change, the committee describes five recommendations to increase URM persistence in STEM at the undergraduate level. These recommendations capitalize on known successes, recognize the need for accountability, and are framed to facilitate greater progress in the future. The impact of these recommendations rests upon enacting the first recommendation: to track successes and failures at the institutional level and collect data that help explain the existing trends.