The Student Experience Project (SEP) is a collaborative of university leaders, faculty, researchers and national education organizations committed to creating more equitable learning environments by leveraging social psychology to develop innovative, evidence-based tools and practices that support the academic achievement and well-being of all students. As a partner in the SEP, CTC is leading the development and testing of evidence-based tools and practices designed to support student success in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses and majors. Working with our partners, we are identifying the most impactful opportunities for change within STEM disciplines, supporting the development of changes to spur student success, and synthesizing the evidence about the SEP’s impact on student outcomes.
Background & Theory
Colleges and universities are enrolling more diverse student populations than ever before. Yet, students from structurally disadvantaged and negatively stereotyped groups remain underrepresented in STEM disciplines. Students of color, women, and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds tend to enter STEM majors at lower rates, exit STEM majors at higher rates, and underperform academically compared to their peers. Research indicates that these differential rates of STEM participation and persistence may be linked to the presence of situational cues in STEM contexts that signal to some students that their social group is stigmatized, negatively stereotyped, or not valued in STEM.
Focusing initially on the experiences of students in STEM, the SEP aims to develop replicable models for transforming college students’ psychological experiences of their learning environments so that more students can persist through academic challenges to earn their degrees. Once piloted with faculty, staff, and students in STEM disciplines, SEP leaders will create replicable models that can be scaled to other disciplines or college contexts.
CTC is currently collaborating with all SEP partners on research to better understand students experiences in STEM disciplines. In the next phase of this project, CTC and our six university partners will work together to explore opportunities for leveraging social psychology to improve student outcomes in STEM on their campuses, and will then work with our team to collaboratively design and test innovative practices to transform the college student experience and support student success.
If you are interested in working with the CTC on a future project related to student experience, we encourage you to fill out our interest form to receive updates on upcoming opportunities, or send us an email.