[xmca] Fwd: Study Blames Obstacles, Not Lack of Interest, for Shortage of Black and Hispanic Scientists, by Peter Schmidt, CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, April 4, 2006

From: Mike Cole (lchcmike@gmail.com)
Date: Tue Apr 04 2006 - 18:50:36 PDT

Re the discussion continued by Steve.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Olga Vasquez <ovasquez@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Apr 4, 2006 5:28 PM
Subject: Re: Study Blames Obstacles, Not Lack of Interest, for Shortage of
Black and Hispanic Scientists, by Peter Schmidt, CHRONICLE OF
To: impact2@lcm.ucsd.edu, stleos@wizard.ucsd.edu

fyi, you all.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Stu*dy Blames Obstacles, Not Lack of Interest, for Shortage of Black and
Hispanic Scientists


Black and Hispanic students are about as likely as their white and
Asian-American peers to enter college interested in majoring in the "STEM"
fields -- science, technology, engineering, and mathematics -- but many seem
to eventually run into problems that keep them from earning their degrees on
time, according to a study released on Monday by the American Council on

The study "seems to dispel the commonly held belief that African-American
and Hispanic students aren't interested in STEM fields," Eugene L. Anderson,
associate director of the council's Center for Policy Analysis and a
co-author of the report, said in a written statement. What is happening
instead, the report concludes, is that many such minority students have
trouble earning credits at a pace that will enable them to complete college
within six years, mainly as a result of inadequate preparation for college
and of having to work long hours outside class.

The report, "Increasing the Success of Minority Students in Science and
Technology," is based on a longitudinal study in which the U.S. Department
of Education collected data over six years on the progress of 12,000
students who began college in the fall of 1995. The initial sampling of
entering freshmen found that 22.7 percent of Hispanic and 18.6 percent of
black students entered college interested in the STEM fields, compared with
26.4 percent of Asian-American students and 18 percent of white students.

The ACE analysis says the results of follow-up interviews conducted more
than two years later, in the spring of 1998, refute the common belief that
black and Hispanic students are disproportionately unable to get through the
tough "weed out" courses that STEM-discipline majors encounter when entering
their fields. The share of both black and Hispanic students who had stuck it
out to that point -- 56 percent -- was only slightly smaller than the 57
percent of white and Asian-American students who remained.

Where the black and Hispanic students seemed to run into trouble was after
their third year. By the spring of 2001, the end of their sixth year of
college, just 62.5 percent of those who had still been in STEM fields as of
1998 had obtained degrees in those areas, compared with 94.8 percent of
Asian-American and 86.7 percent of white students who had remained in those
fields as of 1998.

The ACE researchers said there were not enough students in the sample to
make in-depth race-based comparisons of the educational experiences of those
who completed their degrees in six years and those who failed to do so. But,
in comparing the total population of students who completed STEM-field
degree programs on time with those who failed to do so, the study found

Good preparation helped. Nearly 42 percent of those who earned a degree in a
STEM discipline on time had taken a highly rigorous curriculum in high
school, compared with just 18 percent of those who did not finish on time.

Starting early helped, too. Nearly 98 percent of those who completed
STEM-field degrees within six years had entered college before they turned
19, compared with about 84 percent of those who failed to earn such degrees
on time.

Family background was important. More than 64 percent of those who completed
such degrees had at least one parent with at least a bachelor's degree, and
47 percent came from families with income levels in the top third
nationally. Of the students who failed to earn their degrees on time, 38
percent had at least one parent with at least a bachelor's degree, and 28
percent came from the wealthiest third.

Money mattered. Of the students who graduated on time, 38.5 percent had
received financial-aid grants exceeding $5,000 as freshmen, and 27.1 percent
had worked more than 15 hours per week. In contrast, just 7.6 percent of the
students who failed to obtain STEM-field degrees on time had received
financial-aid grants of $5,000 or more as freshmen, and 42.6 percent had
worked more than 15 hours a week.

Copies of the report can be ordered for $22 (plus $6.95 shipping and
handling) from the ACE Fulfillment Service, Department 191, Washington, D.C.
20055-1091, or by calling (301) 632-6757.


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*"Teaching is not filling up a pail, it is lighting a fire."* -William Butler Yeats


Olga A. Vásquez Associate Professor Department of Communication University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA 92093-0503

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