Meetings, workshops, research projects, and publications have all tried to address the issue of retaining underrepresented groups in the sciences. Some attribute the low numbers to lack of interest, lack of resources, or lack of confidence.
Lack of interest: Are teachers engaging? Are students encouraged to participate and apply their knowledge? Is the material applicable to the students? Tell the students up front why the topic is important. I never did well in history classes, it just seemed like a lot of memorization, I wish someone explained why history was important to me when I was younger, I would have paid more attention.
Lack of resources: Resources take money and support. Teachers are the best at taking minimal resources and doing amazing things, imagine what they could do with a little more support.
Lack of confidence: A teacher’s, parent’s, or classmate’s words can be damaging, convincing the student, early on, that they can’t ‘do’ science. Even at the college level, students in my introductory class appear intimidated by science and it does not have to be that way. I never thought I was smart enough to do post-graduate work, luckily I met some amazing role models and mentors who helped me gain confidence.
There are many more aspects to discuss, perhaps I’ll make a page. Let me know your best ideas for increasing retention in the sciences. For more information, search the web for ‘underrepresented demographics in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields’.
- Boost for science, maths (stuff.co.nz)