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 leads the development and testing of evidence-based tools and practices designed to support student success. Beginning with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses, we are working with our partners to identify the most impactful opportunities for change within STEM disciplines, support the development of changes to spur student success, and synthesize 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.
In phase one of the SEP, CTC collaborated with SEP partners on research to better understand students' experiences in STEM disciplines. Informed by this work, CTC developed the SEP Practices Library - a collection of evidence-based resources to help instructors adopt practical practices to support the equity and belonging and growth of all students, along with the content for a series of professional development workshops that help introduce instructors to the foundational research in education, social psychology, and brain science that inform this work. Beginning in the Fall of 2020, more than 100 instructors across our six cohort partner schools have field-tested the changes in the SEP Practices Library to help ensure that recommended practices can be adapted in authentic ways that fit with their teaching style and courses. Throughout the term, student experiences are measured periodically to assess impact and inform improvements.
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.