The Alliance of Students with Disabilities for Inclusion, Networking, and Transition Opportunities in STEM (TAPDINTO-STEM)


Auburn University, Alabama - lead 

Lead: Auburn University  

Regional Hub leads
Auburn University (Southeastern Hub),  
Northern Arizona University (Mountain Hub),  
The Ohio State University (Northeastern Hub),  
the University of Hawaii-Manoa (Islands Hub),  
the University of Missouri-Kansas City (Midwest Hub)  
the University of Washington (West Coast Hub).  

27 IHEs partner with three professional organizations  
The Association of University Centers on Disability
the Association on Higher Education And Disability 
the Learning Disabilities Association of America  

Backbone organization 
The University of Missouri-Kansas City 

The partners will expand the NSF INCLUDES TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance to include over 50 IHEs.  

Principal  Investigator
Overtoun Jenda  

Co-Principal Investigators
David  Shannon  
Carl  Pettis  
Brittany McCullough  
Daniela Marghitu  

Goal: To employ a collective impact approach with dozens of partnering organizations to increase the number of students with disabilities (SWDs) who complete associate, baccalaureate and graduate STEM degrees and enter the STEM workforce through professional development for educators, greater collaboration, and a research project on SWDs in STEM.  The partners will expand the NSF INCLUDES TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance to include over 50 IHEs. Each of the Alliance’s hub institutions will lead a research study about SWDs in STEM.  

Persons with disabilities are one of the most significantly underrepresented groups in STEM education and employment, comprising a disproportionately smaller percentage of STEM degrees and jobs compared to their percentages in the U.S. population.  

The primary project work targets three objectives, two focused on students and the other on institutions: 1) Increasing the quantity of SWDs completing associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees in STEM; 2) Facilitating the transitions of SWDs from STEM degree completion into the STEM workforce; and 3) Enhancing communication and collaboration among IHEs, industry, government, national labs, and local communities in addressing the education needs of SWDs in STEM disciplines.  

To support SWDs in successfully completing their degrees, the NSF INCLUDES TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance will provide professional development for faculty, staff and STEM professionals to increase their formal involvement, as mentors and research collaborators, with SWDs. Furthermore, the Alliance will increase collaboration among IHEs, industry, government, national labs, and communities to address the education needs of SWDs in STEM disciplines, leading to increased opportunities for SWDs in internships, apprenticeships and employment in the STEM workforce. Additionally, each of the Alliance’s hub institutions will lead a research study about SWDs in STEM.  

Research studies:
The Auburn University/ Southeast Hub:  the relationship between student background experiences and dispositions (e.g., student demographics, family background, motivation, academic efficacy) and persistence; and they will study the relationship between organizational context factors and student experiences on student commitment, persistence, and academic retention.  

The Northern Arizona University/ Mountain Hub, will investigate, using an intersectionality lens, what are the disconnections and gaps between: a) the experiences of students related to bias, discrimination and stigma; b) the information and messaging available to IHE faculty and staff pertaining to inclusion and recognizing intersectionality; and c) IHE faculty and staff perceptions that perpetuate bias, discrimination and stigma.  

Ohio State University /Northeast Hub team  will study what support services used by students with autism spectrum disorders promote academic success and are valued by students; and which academic, social and employment experiences are correlated with increased employment outcomes.  

University of Hawaii-Manoa /The Islands Hub team, will investigate how a variety of factors (e.g., historical, social, cultural, disability, and personal) facilitate or impede the development of student attitudes toward and access to postsecondary education in STEM, identity development in STEM, and persistence towards and graduation with a STEM degree.  

University of Missouri-Kansas City /The Midwest Hub team, led by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will examine how the student success model each NSF INCLUDES TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance institution implements increases the access, entry, progress and completion of students in their programs; and they will study how the student success model each institution implements aids in the transition of students from college to the workforce.  

The University of Washington/West Coast Hub will compare information from the NSF INCLUDES TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance students with data from an ongoing longitudinal study to examine which interventions students regard as most valuable, investigate patterns linking student demographics or interests with the interventions used, and study suggestions for improving or expanding interventions. Together, this research will advance knowledge about the STEM academic pathways of SWDs and their transitions to the workforce. 

1 comment



08-02-2022 01:50 PM

Hello!  Really interested in this Alliance.  Please may I find out who at the University of Washington represents the west coast hub so that we may connect with the STEM Core Alliance?  Thank you