First Advisor

Erin E. Shortlidge

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Public Health Studies: Health Services Administration and University Honors


Health Studies




Science -- Study and teaching (Higher), Belonging (Social psychology), Undergraduates -- Services for




National calls have been made to strengthen our nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce by improving student preparation and increasing retention rates. A sense of belonging in STEM fields is thought to be key for persistence in STEM, but many students face academic, social, and financial barriers that can impede this sense of belonging. These barriers can be more pronounced for students underrepresented in STEM. In response, many federal and non-governmental agencies have invested in the future STEM workforce by funding STEM support programs. Such programs aim to support student persistence by providing academic, social, and financial resources to selected students. Our university has several high-impact STEM support programs involving ~10% of all STEM students. We aim to measure if and how STEM support programs may impact undergraduate students’ integration into science, sense of belonging, and participation in STEM related activities; and if those impacts differ across student groups.

Impacts of STEM support programs were assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively. A survey instrument with science integration and sense of belonging scales derived from the literature and items to measure STEM involvement was disseminated to STEM students during Spring 2019. At the end of Spring 2019, eight focus groups were conducted with participants recruited from the spring survey. Survey data shows significantly higher results among STEM support participants compared to no support participants. Focus group analysis reveals differences in perceptions among students in STEM support programs compared to those not in programs.


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