Latino achievement in STEM strongly influenced by faculty, study finds

The LA Times reports:

Latino college students who major in math, sciences and technology do better academically when they have strong relationships with faculty, according to a study from [the University of Southern California].  The study [is by] professor Darnell Cole and graduate student Araceli Espinoza.
“This shows how important it is for students to perceive they are part of the academic environment, especially for Latino students whose backgrounds may not be represented as equally in faculty numbers,” Cole said in a statement from USC.

The study was based on nationwide data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA of 146 Latino students who filled out surveys as freshmen in 1999 and as seniors in 2003. According to the National Science Foundation, in recent years Latino students earned about 7.3% of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering.

The USC researchers looked at such factors as whether the students were enrolled in an ethnic studies course, attended a racial or cultural awareness workshop or participated in a racial or ethnic student organization.

Researchers also evaluated faculty support through survey questions such as whether professors encouraged students to pursue graduate school and provided opportunities to discuss course work outside of class.

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