Collaborative Research: Strategic Course-based Adaptations of an Ecological Belonging Intervention to Broaden Participation in Engineering at Scale - National Science Foundation Grants IUSE - 2111114/2111513

This Institutional and Community Transformation Level 2 proposal takes on the challenge of scaling a low-cost ecological belonging intervention that has been found to erase gender and race/ethnicity gaps in engineering introductory coursework. A highly interdisciplinary team is brought together to build a systematic approach for adapting the intervention to local constraints to ensure it will remain effective while also designing for strategic onboarding of courses to ensure all course sections are transformed and remain transformed. The work is deployed across three strategically selected universities: University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), Purdue University, and University of California, Irvine (UCI). Mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, aligned to an overarching theory-of-action that includes both the intervention and strategy for onboarding new courses, are systematically applied to design, research, and evaluation. 

Developing a Context-Integrated Mindset / Belonging Intervention to Eliminate Demographic-based Underperformance in Challenging Large Lecture Undergraduate Courses - IES Award #R305A210167 

Many postsecondary students, including those at selective schools, may struggle to complete their degrees. These struggles are not evenly distributed. For example, students in large lecture courses and those who may be under-represented in the course or the course's field may be less likely to complete or persist in their programs than other students. Previous research has found that psychosocial interventions show promise for addressing such course-based inequities using highly cost-effective brief interventions. However, it is difficult to  scale up such interventions or to adapt them quickly to new contexts.  In this project, the researchers will develop a framework that will help institutions and course developers integrate two psychosocial interventions – student growth mindsets and sense of belonging – in ways that are aligned to the varying student contexts (such as course where women or minorities may be underrepresented in the field). They will pilot the framework using different courses at one institution and will demonstrate how to leverage psychosocial interventions to improve student outcomes and facilitate social in-class participation.

Project Activities: The researchers will iteratively develop and refine systematic methods for using administrative data and focus groups to identify which students are underperforming in a particular course and understand the students' needs and concerns. After completing the framework and redesigning courses with the framework, the researchers will conduct a pilot study using random assignment  to test the impact on course grades overall and in the targeted demographic group. As part of the pilot study, they will also examine the costs for using the approach to customizing and implementing the intervention.