New Coordination Hub Research Brief: Evidence-Based Strategies for Broadening Participation in STEM

NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub ResearchBy Daniela Saucedo and Mercy Mugo

Marginalized racial and ethnic groups continue to be underrepresented in science and engineering fields (NSF, 2019). To address these persistent disparities, it is critical to develop and implement strategies that attract and retain Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaskan Native, and other Pacific Islander students and professionals in STEM.

We are pleased to share the Evidence-based Strategies for Improving Equity and Inclusion of Individuals in Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Groups, the first research brief from the NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub team. The brief explores promising practices for broadening participation among racial/ethnic minorities in STEM and features the following evidence-based strategies:
  • Culturally responsive pedagogical practices—the practice of infusing cultural knowledge and context into STEM teaching to help students see the connections between the scientific concepts they are learning and their lived experiences;
  • Family support—engaging family members to encourage and support students to enter and stay in STEM educational experiences;
  • Hands-on learning—experiential learning in which students are accorded the opportunity to manipulate things they are studying, gaining knowledge through first-hand experience;
  • Summer bridge programs—programs offering academic and social support to ease the transition of underrepresented groups into college;
  • Research experiences—undergraduate students’ immersion in meaningful research experiences, which is often associated with increased interest in STEM careers;
  • Counterspaces/safe spaces—intentionally creating alternative spaces within central academic spaces for underrepresented groups to interact and engage in activities that promote feelings of belonging in STEM; and
  • Mentoring—the process by which more experienced researchers guide, advise, and establish long-term relationships that benefit a mentee’s educational and career development.
Key Takeaways
The strategies described above are used across STEM fields and have provided considerable evidence for positive results for students. We note additional approaches may support program success such as: adapting for local needs, maximizing the role and value of partnerships, and implementing multifaceted interventions. We have been discussing these topics in the online community and would love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts on the “importance of mentoring and family support,” or the “power of  culturally responsive pedagogical practices and counterspaces,” or “using hands-on learning, summer bridge programs and research experiences.

You can access the full research brief here. This is the first in a series of research briefs produced by the NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub, with more to come. Join the INCLUDES National Network at to connect with members and to access other resources that support efforts to expand participation in STEM learning and careers. If you have stories to tell about using any of these strategies, or if there are any other strategies for broadening participation that you would recommend, let us know in the comments below!



1 comment



11-17-2021 07:56 AM

Prior to receiving funding for our NSF Alliance, Engineering-PLUS several of Co-PI's (R. Harris, C. Duggan) have supported the implementation of an S-STEM effort, S-POWER NSF #1564653.
Video regarding this project S-POWER.
We have a work in progress paper that outlines various strategies we have used to support students across five partner institutions
Mitigating Transfer Shock for Undergraduates in Engineering to Increase Diversity (Work in Progress)
As part of its response to the anticipated workforce needs in STEM fields, the National Science Foundation S-STEM (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics) initiative provides essential scholarship support to academically talented and diverse students with interests in STEM careers. The success of this initiative is essential to broadening the participation of underrepresented students in STEM fields across the nation. While supporting more traditionally matriculated students remains an abiding commitment, the S-POWER (Student Pathways Opening World Energy Resources) initiative at
Northeastern University has turned toward the expansion of URM (Underrepresented Minority) students transferring from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) as well as regional community colleges. . ......
The model utilized at Northeastern University prior to and during the invited student’s undergraduate experience includes but is not limited to the following:
• Pre-enrollment: pre-transfer identification, two-way institutional visits, cross-institutional peer-to-peer student interactions, experiential learning opportunities such as REUs
(Research Experiences for Undergraduates), student application and financial aid support.
• Transition: participation in a Summer Bridge program (during the summer prior to the first-semester matriculation and designed specifically around identified needs of transfer students).
• During: course selection advising/support, academic advising, persistence advising, expanded mentoring (by faculty/senior administrator), peer-to-peer networking/support, supplemental instruction, providing research opportunities, workforce development, and preparation (including co-op opportunities).
• Frequent collection of qualitative and quantitative data allows for continuous monitoring and informed project management.