Race in the STEM Curriculum? Exploring the Educational Impact of Science and Engineering Courses Integrating Issues of Racial Inequality

Engineering and Society; Science and Technology Studies; Education

The project explores how S&E courses integrating racial issues in the curricular content impact students’ S&E identities, racial attitudinal development, career interest, and educational experiences.

Research Interests
  • Diversity
  • Curriculum
  • Learning Outcomes

With demographic shifts towards greater diversity in higher education and STEM education, as well as the persistence of racial/ethnic inequality in our society, many STEM students and educators are increasingly interrogating ways to revise STEM curricula to broaden participation and better train future STEM professionals. One way that some STEM educators are revising STEM curricula is through the integration of content focused on social justice and racial inequality. However, few studies have provided empirical evidence on the educational impact of such courses. Prior research studies have largely focused on individual STEM courses that integrate civic engagement broadly or on “diversity courses” that are in non-STEM departments. To help address this research gap, the proposed project will examine: (1) the development of students’ STEM identities in relation to their experiences in a STEM course integrating issues of racial inequality, (2) the development of students’ racial attitudes and career aspirations by taking such a course; and (3) and teaching and learning experiences in this course that can both broaden participation and strengthen student training for democracy.

Desired outcomes

Outcomes of the project will include research papers that will be disseminated through local and national conferences and publication. Findings from the pilot study will help to further refine the instruments and be used to apply for larger, external funding opportunities at various funding agencies. It is also desired that students involved on the project will gain important professional and research skills and experience that will translate into important outcomes for their careers.