Table of Contents:
First-Year Seminar, Capstone Projects, and Writing-Intensive Courses
Figure 5.1 shows that approximately one-tenth of STEM Latinas participated in capstone or thesis projects, and approximately half of STEM Latinas participated in first-year seminar and writing-intensive courses. It is worth noting that more than 90% of higher-education institutions offer some type of a first-year seminar, but there are considerable variations in terms of who takes the course (e.g., whether it is required for all first-year students, voluntary, mandatory for students who meet specific requirements or at-risk students) (Clark & Cundiff, 2011; Tobolowsky, Mamrick, & Cox, 2005).
Figure 5. / Capstone, First-Year Seminar, and Writing-Intensive Course Participation by Latina Socioeconomic and Immigrant-Generation Status.
The 2016 SERU data indicates that almost half of STEM Latina students participate in a first-year seminar, except for the first-generation immigrant group.
While we found similar patterns in capstone participation by socioeconomic status and immigrant status among STEM Latinas, we found that first-generation immigrants participated at a lower rate than their peers in first-year seminar and writing-intensive courses. When we compared the percentage of participation in these practices within each group of students, the second-generation and non-immigrant STEM Latina students were 11 percentage points (45%) and 13 percentage points (47%) higher in first- year seminar participation than were first-generation immigrants (34%), respectively. The participation of first-generation immigrant STEM Latinas in writing-intensive courses (49%) was 6 percentage points lower than second-generation immigrants (55%) and 9 percentage points lower than non-immigrants (58%). The gap between second-generation immigrants and non-immigrants in these HIPs was much smaller than the comparison with first-generation immigrants among STEM Latinas. This finding suggested that the distribution of participation in first-year seminar and writing-intensive courses differs among STEM Latinas with varying immigrant backgrounds.
Learning Communities, Living-Learning Communities, Leadership, and Honors Programs
Figure 5.2 indicates that low-SES (43%) and middle-SES students (44%) participated in learning communities at levels that were almost ten percentage points higher than the high-SES STEM Latinas (35%). We do not know whether universities intend to recruit low- and middle-SES students for learning communities or whether these students are more interested in
Figure 5.2 Learning Community, Living-Learning Community, Leadership Program, and Honors Program Participation by Latina Socioeconomic and Immigrant- Generation Status.
participating in learning communities, compared to high-SES peers. Either way, learning communities would be beneficial for economically disadvantaged students. Tinto (2019) argued that learning communities can be beneficial to historically underrepresented or economically disadvantaged students because they learn skills or strategies to overcome social or academic challenges. Research shows that low-SES and middle-SES students may get more benefit from learning communities than high-SES students by supporting students’ adjustment to college (Cambridge-Williams, Winsler, Kitsantas, & Bernard, 2013) and collaborative learning activities and interactions with peers of different backgrounds (Tinto, 2019).
While we found higher proportions of low-SES and middle-SES STEM Latinas in learning and living-learning communities, we found a reverse pattern in honors programs. Most higher-education institutions have criteria to be eligible for participation in honors programs; students need to demonstrate their academic ability and achievement (e.g., high school grade point average and ACT/SAT scores) (Achterberg, 2005; Bowman & Culver, 2018). Given the social-class achievement gap, low-SES students who, in general, have lower academic performance may not be able to access honors programs, or may not even be aware of honors programs. The finding of participation in honors programs is consistent with prior literature; low- SES (6%) and middle-SES (8%) groups were ten percentage points lower than high-SES students (18%). The percent of low-SES Latinas participating in honors programs (6%) is the lowest among all 13 HIPs. Given that researchers have found positive effects of honors programs on student learning outcomes (Bowman & Culver, 2018; Seifert, Pascarella, Colangelo, & Assouline, 2007), we recommend that administrators consider broadening honors programs to low-SES STEM Latina students by offering tutoring and faculty mentoring. Low-SES Latina students should not be excluded because of their academic preparedness, which is tied to broader contexts like parental education and expectations, school location and resources, and distribution of wealth (Oakes, 2003).
We did not find substantial differences in living-learning community' and leadership program participation by socioeconomic and immigrant- generation status. These trends may reveal that Latinas with low SES may already be involved in STEM intervention programs or other social identity' groups based on race/ethnicity that function as living-learning communities or leadership programs. Analyzing learning outcome differences by gender and race among 5,000 engineering undergraduates at 31 institutions, Ro and Loy'a (2015) found that Latina undergraduates in engineering programs self-assessed their leadership skills higher than their White male peers. There are no differences in any learning outcomes that Ro and Loya (2015) measured (e.g., fundamental, design, communication, teamwork, and contextual competence) between Latinas and White men. Leadership skills were the only' case in which a minoritized female group (Blacks, Latinas, and Asian Americans) surpassed White men’s self-reports. STEM intervention programs that target underrepresented racial minorities as well as social identity groups, such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, focus on building a sense of community and facilitating the development of a science identity and leadership skills (Maton et al., 2016). STEM Latinas may boost their confidence in leadership through leadership programs as well as STEM intervention programs.
Undergraduate Research and Internship
Figure 5.3 indicates noticeable differences by students’socioeconomic status in participation in undergraduate research and internships. We found that high-SES Latinas completed these two practices at almost 10 to 15 percentage points higher than either middle-SES or low-SES Latinas. This finding is consistent with previous literature that indicates low-SES students have fewer opportunities to be involved in undergraduate research or internships because of a lack of parental social and cultural capital, academic preparedness, and interaction with faculty (Boylan, 2009; Carter, Ro, Alcott, & Lattuca, 2016). Extending undergraduate research opportunities and internships to low-SES students is critical because these apprentice experiences, particularly in STEM, can promote student learning outcomes (Fernald & Goldstein, 2013; Jones, 2002; Kilgo & Pascarella, 2016; Parker III, Kilgo, Sheets, & Pascarella, 2016).
Across students’ immigrant statuses, we found a higher proportion of first- generation immigrants in undergraduate research (40%) compared to either second-generation (28%) or non-immigrant Latina students (32%). We found a similar pattern in internship participation: first-generation immigrants (48%);
Figure 5.3 Undergraduate Latina Research and Internship Participation by Socioeconomic and Immigrant-Generation Status.
second-generation immigrants (32%); and non-immigrants (40%). Given that the SERU did not ask more specific questions about HIPs, it is uncertain what kinds of undergraduate research and internship programs first-generation immigrant STEM Latinas tend to participate in while in college. This finding may be connected to involvement in STEM intervention programs or other university transition programs that focus efforts on recruiting and retaining underrepresented students, which include those who are first-generation immigrants.
Global-Focused Academic Experiences and Study Abroad
Figure 5.4 shows that there are no substantial differences in global-focused experiences and study abroad across SES and immigration status among STEM Latinas. Study abroad programs can be cost-prohibitive, which may be a deterrent for low-SES students. However, accessibility and cultural aspects may contribute to decisions of a small percentage of both economically disadvantaged and advantaged STEM Latinas to choose to participate in global-focused experiences and study abroad. Additionally, both first- and second-immigrant and non-immigrant students may want or need to be close to home and their families, which may also discourage participation in study abroad programs.
Service Learning and Academic Experiences With Diversity
Figure 5.5 shows that there is no substantial difference in learning and academic experiences with diversity by social class and immigrant status. While about one-third of STEM Latinas participated in service learning, approximately 51—58% of STEM Latinas participated in academic experiences with diversity, regardless of their social class and immigrant background.
Figure 5.4 Global-Focused Academic Latina Experiences and Study Abroad Participation by Socioeconomic and Immigrant-Generation Status.
Figure 5.5 Service Learning and Academic Latina Experiences With Diversity Participation by Socioeconomic and Immigrant-Generation Status.
Note: Figure 5.5 is based on the authors’ data analysis from the 2016 SERU survey.