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This study uses a multi-institutional dataset, the 2016 Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey. The 2016 SERU data included 101,280 undergraduates at 18 institutions. Among these students, 39,341 (nearly 41% of the sample) had majors in STEM. Of the students majoring in STEM, 38% were White, 37% Asian, 18% Latinx, 5% Multi-racial, and 2% Black.


In this chapter, we examine Latina STEM undergraduates’ participation in HIPs, and we examine differences by immigrant background and socioeconomic status. First, we constructed immigrant-generation status in the following way: first-generation immigrant students were classified as those who were born outside the United States and had at least one foreign-born parent; second-generation immigrant students included those who were born in the United States and had at least one foreign-born parent; and non-immigrants were students who were born either in the United States or abroad with two US-native parents (Portes 8c Rumbaut, 2018). In second- generation immigrant students, we also included those who were born outside the United States and moved there at 5 years of age or younger with at least one foreign-born parent, referred to as the “1.75 generation” because their experiences are, in general, similar to those who were born in the United States in terms of language acquisition and socialization (Rumbaut, 2004). Second, to investigate the link between social class and HIP participation, we categorized socioeconomic status (SES) based on the following question in the SERU survey: “Which of the following best describes your social class when you were growing up: low-income or poor, working-class, middle-class, upper-middle or professional-middle, and wealthy” We first combined “low-income or poor” and “working-class” to create a “low- SES” group. We also combined “upper-middle or professional-middle” and “wealthy” to create a “high-SES” group.

Finally, we examined 13 specific HIPs, which students either completed or were in the process of completing when they responded to the 2016 SERU survey. The HIPs included (a) first-year seminar; (b) capstone or thesis projects; (c) writing-intensive/enriched courses; (d) learning community, taking two or more linked classes with the same cohort of students; (e) living-learning program(s), where students with common interests live together and share learning experiences in and out of the classroom; (f) leadership program; (g) honors program; (h) undergraduate research, research or creative project outside of regular course requirements; (i) internship, either credit or non-credit bearing; (j) on-campus academic experiences with an international/global focus; (k) study abroad, academically-focused time outside of the United States in which at least one academic credit is accrued; (1) academic service learning or community-based learning experience (service learning); and (m) academic experiences with diversity (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation) focus.


The final analytical sample included 3,453 Latina undergraduate students in STEM disciplines at 18 research universities. Within this sample, 64% identified as low-SES, 27% were middle-SES, and 9% were high-SES. In terms of immigrant background, 8% were first-generation immigrants, 66% were second-generation immigrants, and 26% were non-immigrant students. In this chapter, the descriptive data indicates the percentage (out of 100%) of participation in HIPs within each group of students (e.g., first-generation immigrant Latina in STEM, low-SES Latina in STEM).


In order to present our findings on the 13 HIPs in a cohesive manner, we grouped the HIPs according to similar attributes. We first utilized the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) (2020) broad descriptions of the six primary high-impact practices they ask students about on their annual survey. These HIPs include (1) learning community or another formal program where students take two or more courses together; (2) course with a community-based project such as service learning; (3) engaging in research with a faculty member; (4) internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement; (4) study abroad; and (5) culminating senior experience which includes capstone, senior project, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc. We used these broad categories to inform how we would group the different HIPs in our sample.

We first combined first-year seminar, capstone or thesis project, and writing-intensive courses into one category. Although the first-year seminar is typically taken in the first year and writing-intensive courses can be taken throughout college, we decided to combine these categories with the capstone or thesis project because they share a curricular academic component. Second, we combined learning communities, living-learning communities, leadership programs, and honors programs, given that they potentially involve students taking classes and engaging in outside classroom activities together as a group. Third, we combined undergraduate research and internships because of their apprentice-type experiences in which they can potentially assist students in identifying graduate education and career interests. Fourth, global-focused experiences and study abroad were placed together because they involve assisting students in developing cultural competency. Lastly, service learning and academic experiences with diversity were made into one category because they are typically associated with a course and focus on exposure to diverse communities.

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