Icon for: Suzanne Barbour

SUZANNE BARBOUR

University of Georgia, Florida International University, Clark Atlanta University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Suzanne Barbour

    Suzanne Barbour

    Presenter
    May 14, 2017 | 09:20 p.m.

    Greetings!

    Thank you for viewing our video. Our project is a new collaboration between five universities in Georgia and Alabama. As you will see in the video, the cornerstone of our project is a "study abroad" exchange wherein students from each of our partner schools spend a semester at another partner. Both before and during the exchange, the students participate in collaborative inquiry to investigate their own experiences as underrepresented students in STEM.

    The most rewarding part of the project to date has been the students' reports of their experiences at their home institutions. During the final group meeting of the spring semester, the students shared their experiences and provided their peers with advice on how best to "navigate" the culture at their institutions. We found the students comments to be both insightful and constructive. Some of the advice was comparable what we would have expected from faculty mentors, but the students shared suggestions that we did not anticipate. We are very much looking forward to learning more from the students when they transition to their host institutions in the fall.

    Our biggest challenge to date has been the mechanics of the exchange, which turn out to be far more complicated than we had anticipated. We are still struggling with such questions as "when is the best time for students to participate in the exchange (ours are going fall semester, sophomore year)?" "what STEM majors are best suited for the exchange (ours includes life sciences, computer science, and engineering)?" "what kinds of academic and social support will students need during the exchange (each of our institutions has a LSAMP program and we have identified an academic advisor "point person" for incoming students)?

    We look forward to your questions, comments, and suggestions and also to updating you on results as the students share their experiences.

    We look forward to sharing our 

     
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  • Icon for: Albert Byers

    Albert Byers

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 08:51 p.m.

    This looks like a very meaningful project and one whose mission is critically needed. Thank you in advance for tackling this worthwhile effort. I look forward to learning more about the project and commenting!

    Initially, I’d like to pose a few questions to help me better understand the effort.

     

    First, I’m pretty sure LSAMP stands for Louis Stoke Alliances for Minority Participation-an NSF effort, and if folks reviewing these videos want more background, I found this URL: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5477. Great to leverage prior NSF funding/existing support, i.e., academic advisers for your effort. Please correct me if I’m wrong and/or feel free to add or provide additional background/insight/URLs!

     

    It looks like your framework from the video has three components/strategies that will help you meet your goal to enhance the success and retention of underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines/careers:

    1. --A one semester student exchange between the five participating institutions across two states

    2. --A collaborative inquiry that involves an anthropology-like study where students meta-cognitively reflect on their “lived experience” in STEM pursuits involving observations, facilitated discussions, and some form of “action.”

    3. --A “Diversity in the Classroom” course will be designed in part with data captured from the collaborative inquiry in number 2 above.


    Sounds like a winning combination to me!

     

    Here are a few questions to help me  learn about this program:

    1. --Where are you in the overall program timeline now (e.g., first year/first semester, completed one academic year cycle)?

    2. --Can you define what you mean by “cultural competence” and how you envision an increase in this construct will in turn increase the academic success in STEM disciplines?

    3. --Might you provide an example of “institutional culture” from the literature or your experience that you feel might enhance or limit success in STEM disciplines for underrepresented minority students (URM)?

    4. --What type of data (early or anticipated quantitative/qualitative feedback) do you envision mining to identify “institutional culture” limits or enhancements for URM students?

    5. --Can you share if the “Diversity in the Classroom” is an onsite facilitated course offered by different instructors across each of the five participating institutions, offered online for all in this program drawn from across the five participating institutions, or offered to students after the student exchange once they are back at their host institutions? What are some of the interactions/goals of that course (sounds very interesting!)?

     

    I look forward to your responses (as I’m sure others will as well)!

     
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    Suzanne Barbour

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 10:29 a.m.

    Al: Thanks for your questions. Responses are below:

     

     

    • -Where are you in the overall program timeline now (e.g., first year/first semester, completed one academic year cycle)? This is our first year and the first exchange will occur in the fall.

    • --Can you define what you mean by “cultural competence” and how you envision an increase in this construct will in turn increase the academic success in STEM disciplines? This refers to a fundamental understanding of differences in expectations, student-student, and student-instructor relationships at different types of institutions as well as the skills to successfully navigate these differences.

    • --Might you provide an example of “institutional culture” from the literature or your experience that you feel might enhance or limit success in STEM disciplines for underrepresented minority students (URM)? Our students brought up several such differences during the collaborative inquiry group meeting at the end of the spring semester. One example: class size at a large R1 institution----which limits faculty ability to reach out to individual students. Our students advised their peers to "harass your teacher; make them care about you" and "become the small percentage of students that the professor remembers"

    • --What type of data (early or anticipated quantitative/qualitative feedback) do you envision mining to identify “institutional culture” limits or enhancements for URM students? Our data will be largely qualitative, derived from student reflections gleaned through collaborative inquiry. Some of their insights are likely predictable: the angst associated with being "the only one"; the struggle to fit into study groups, etc. I cannot even begin to speculate on the "unexpected" things we will learn, once we empower the students to investigate and report on their experiences.

    • --Can you share if the “Diversity in the Classroom” is an onsite facilitated course offered by different instructors across each of the five participating institutions, offered online for all in this program drawn from across the five participating institutions, or offered to students after the student exchange once they are back at their host institutions? What are some of the interactions/goals of that course (sounds very interesting!)? Diversity in the Classroom is offered through the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), an NSF-funded network that engages dozens of institutions around the country.

     

     
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  • Icon for: Albert Byers

    Albert Byers

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 08:23 p.m.

    Thank you so much for the responses Suzanne. It has helped me better understand the nuances of cultural competence and institutional culture from your frame of reference! I completely agree about the "interaction" with profs at R1 institutions...love the suggestion--harass your teacher, make them care about you!" I was unaware about the "diversity in the classroom" course across so many institutions..thank you for shedding light on that as well for me. Onward and upward and best of success in your future endeavors!

     
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    Suzanne Barbour

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 10:22 p.m.

    Thanks! Just realized I missed one of your questions. I have modified my response.

     
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  • Icon for: Lynn Goldsmith

    Lynn Goldsmith

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 09:43 p.m.

    I second Al's comments about the importance of this program and am also eager to hear more about the individual components of your work. 

    I was interested in your comment that the "mechanics" of the work are proving to be more challenging than you had originally anticipated, and wonder about the kinds of factors that have lead you to ask about the "best" timing for the exchanges and the kinds of STEM majors that are best suited to such a program. Are the challenges mostly logistical, or do they have other components as well?

    I'm looking forward to more conversation about your project!

     
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  • Icon for: Suzanne Barbour

    Suzanne Barbour

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 10:28 p.m.

    Thanks for your questions, Lynn. One of our unexpected challenges: ensuring that coursework can transfer back to satisfy degree requirements at the home institution. We anticipated that first semester sophomores would be in position to take primarily core requirements, with perhaps only one course in the major. It turns out that most of our students are taking primarily courses in their majors. In the end, this was a logistical challenge....that we have fortunately been able to solve.

     
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  • Icon for: Anne Gold

    Anne Gold

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 12:45 a.m.

    Greetings Suzanne and your team, 

    Thank you for sharing an overview of your project and the cornerstones as well as the questions you are wrestling with. It is a very intriguing idea to use an "exchange" program as a means to share cultures and increase participation. You mention in your comment that there are mentors in a side comment. Can you please share more details about to what extend your students are supported and mentored at the partner university? What is the intensity of the mentorship? 

    I look forward to learning more about your project. 

     
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    Suzanne Barbour

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 10:29 p.m.

    Each of the participating institutions has a NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and all of these programs offer extensive mentoring as well as the opportunity to network and build community with other underrepresented students in STEM

    Thanks for your question, Anne.

     
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