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Summary and Recommendations

Conclusions

This chapter examines differences in the types of HIPs that Latinas in STEM completed based on their socio-demographic characteristics. Across thirteen HIPs examined in this chapter, nearly half of the entire analytical sample of Latinas in STEM participated in first-year seminar, learning communities, writing-intensive courses, and academic experiences with diversity. This finding provides insight into the type of HIPs that STEM Latinas at research universities are engaging in. These experiential activities may provide Latinas with the opportunity to increase interaction with peers, faculty, and staff', which are positively related to student learning outcomes and persistence (Kuh, et al., 2005; Zhao, Carini, & Kuh, 2005). Also, these connections may contribute to Latinas’ resistant cultural capital and social capital as they develop communities that assist them with combating both sexism and racism at the university'. Particularly in STEM disciplines, writing-intensive courses can promote critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, (Dowd, Thompson, Schiff, & Reynolds, 2018; Hodges, 2015) and scientific reasoning (Reynolds, Thaiss, Katkin, & Thompson, 2012).

Our findings also indicate that less than 10% of the Latinas in STEM in our sample completed honors programs, international/global-focused academic experiences, and study abroad programs. A key element in international/global-focused academic experiences and study abroad programs is the opportunity for students to develop cultural competency and explore different worldviews from their own (Kuh, 2008). In higher education, a study abroad experience is positively related to growth in sociocultural awareness, cultural competence, (Bell, Gibson, Tarrant, Perry, & Stoner, 2016; Kilgo, Sheets, & Pascarella, 2015) and creative thinking (Lee, Therriault, & Linderholm, 2012). Compared to the HIPs that showed a high participation rate of Larinas in STEM, these programs seek to provide students with diverse and broad perspectives beyond campus and a wide range of interactions in the community. This finding suggests that we need a better understanding of why Larinas in STEM choose certain HIPs over others, as well as the institutional and departmental structures that may prevent participation of Larinas in STEM in particular HIPs.

We also found variation across Larinas’ self-identified socioeconomic statuses and immigrant backgrounds. For low-SES Larinas in STEM, their participation in honors programs is 12 percentage points lower than high-SES Larinas in STEM. Low-SES Latina students also indicate a lower percentage of participation in undergraduate research and internship programs compared to their middle-SES or high-SES counterparts. STEM Latina undergraduates, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or have immigrant backgrounds, may lack the resources to navigate college and take advantage of programs that enhance academic, professional, and socio-emotional growth (Martin, Simmons, & Yu, 2013). These differences in HIP participation warrant attention from policymakers and practitioners.

Recommendations for Practice and Future Research

First, to maximize the positive impact of HIPs for Larinas in STEM— and in particular, those with low-SES and immigrant backgrounds— faculty and staff may need to find ways to provide structured opportunities and customized practices to meet the unique needs and expectations of different student subgroups (Kuh et al., 2005; Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008). For instance, STEM intervention programs that intentionally focus on developing a supportive network and academic support may seek to increase the number of Larinas with a low social class background. Second, faculty and staff should examine how information-sharing pipelines have been structured and implemented to prompt equal educational opportunities and broaden HIP participation. Zhao, Carini, and Kuh (2005) found that women in STEM majors were engaged in the more formal and public forms of effective educational practices (e.g., study abroad, internships, and senior capstone courses) than their male counterparts; however, they less frequently collaborated on projects with peers and less often discussed the ideas from class or readings with faculty outside of class. Even though both men and women participate in HIPs, STEM undergraduate women may have limited access to information exchanges and informal learning opportunities with their peers and faculty'. Faculty and administrators need to find ways to establish infrastructure to improve equal educational opportunities while implementing HIPs, especially' for Latinas who are also low-SES. When institutions design the programs and curricula of HIPs, they should reflect upon the backgrounds of Latinas with diverse backgrounds in STEM.

This finding also lays the foundation for future research that can begin to analyze to what extent the involvement of Latinas in STEM in HIPs affects certain learning outcomes, and their sense of belonging. We also need to explore the differential effects of HIP participation by' student background characteristics within the Latinx population. While there is established evidence suggesting the positive effects of HIPs on student learning and college outcomes for all students, limited research has examined the conditional effects of HIPs based on Latina students’ background characteristics (e.g., Bai & Pan, 2009; Bowman & Culver, 2018; Seifert, Gilling, Hanson, Pas- carella, & Blaich, 2014; Seifert, Pascarella, Colangelo, & Assouline, 2007). For researchers, the descriptive data presented throughout this chapter reveal differences among Latinas in social class and immigrant-generation status and suggest that their college experiences and academic and social engagement may interact with their background characteristics. More research is needed to understand the impact of HIPs on Latinas’ socio-demographic characteristics (e.g., parental level of education, pre-college preparedness, sexual orientation, or transfer status) to successfully estimate the impact of HIPs on student learning outcomes (Seifert, Gilling, Hanson, Pascarella, & Blaich, 2014).

Further research is also needed to investigate the impact of HIPs on Latinas majoring in sub-STEM disciplines separately. Particularly, STEM disciplines in which women and Students of Color are historically underrepresented (e.g., computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics, and statistics) should receive attention. Compared with biological sciences, peer relationships with students who share the same gender play a significant role in increasing women students’ sense of belonging in physical science and engineering disciplines (e.g., Dasgupta, 2011). Sense of belonging seems to be more beneficial for women students’ academic motivation and persistence intentions in these STEM disciplines than for men (Lewis et ah, 2017). Therefore, HIP participation may contribute to students’ perceptions of departmental/institutional climate, sense of belonging, and learning outcomes, which may differ between women and men in STEM disciplines. Overall, continued efforts to understand variations among Latinas and their relationship with HIPs will help improve institutional policies and practices to support the persistence of Latinas in STEM.

 
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