Partnered Internships: Including Families, Faculty, and Industry in STEM Education to Improve Success in STEM Career Pathways

Project Details


With support from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program), this Track 1 project aims to provide a greater understanding of the impact of family support on outcomes for STEM majors, particularly from underrepresented groups (URGs). We hypothesize that the proposed project will contribute to the development of a diverse workforce by exposing URGs to real-world STEM problems through successful cross-sector partnerships with corporations and organizations. With this project, which deeply involves faculty and students' families, we will investigate how cultural and social networks created from cross-sector partners support student success. We will examine how to form meaningful partnerships between faculty research mentors, external internship supervisors, and families to support student retention in STEM academic programs and sense of belonging in STEM careers. The findings will be disseminated and guide other institutions in best practices in involving families in STEM students' academic and professional activities. Improving the outcomes of URG students in STEM is essential as the need for STEM professionals will continue to increase and diverse workforces are more creative and more productive. To improve sense of inclusion, we place students on diverse teams. Most research and innovation in STEM is conducted by teams, which have been proven to have better problem-solving skills when diverse. Institutions of higher education, including HSIs, will benefit from tools that result in optimal outcomes for URG STEM majors.

Developing a new framework for promoting success among URGs in STEM fields may well change the trajectory for successful outcomes for students. Understanding what changes to make to the framework is essential. Our work will contribute to this understanding. This project will use surveys, focus groups, and interviews to study how cultural and social norms among Hispanic populations promote or inhibit student interest in specific career pathways, and if, or how, family norms support (or detract from) student persistence and graduation. A new STEM family survey instrument will be developed, validated and disseminated. The findings will reveal best practices in balancing any STEM-negative influences, educating families on STEM and STEM careers, and involving family members in students' academic and professional trajectories. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) data tells us that URGs are underrepresented in STEM fields. Further, demand for individuals in STEM career pathways continues to grow. This project will help guide and inform institutions of higher education in the design of programs that build on the enrollment gains from URGs and support students to persist, graduate, and enter STEM fields. Research into strategies that support improved persistence and graduation rates are essential to satisfying the unmet demand for STEM-focused, trained professionals. The HSI Program aims to enhance undergraduate STEM education and build capacity at HSIs. Projects supported by the HSI Program will also generate new knowledge on how to achieve these aims.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date1/06/2031/05/25


  • National Science Foundation: $2,000,000.00


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