A Globally Focused, Experiential Educational System for STEM Fields: Measures for Intentionally Promoting Diversity

A Globally Focused, Experiential Educational System for STEM Fields: Measures for Intentionally Promoting Diversity

Aaron Sakulich (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA) and Amy Peterson (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2212-6.ch009
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Abstract

The diversification of the STEM labor force is essential to the health of the American economy, both because diverse teams are more adept at achieving project goals and because of shifting national demographics. Although the professional STEM workforce is currently more diverse than ever, sustained increases in diversity over the last 20 years has been relatively limited and may be decelerating. The focus of this chapter is specific programmatic components that can be implemented to intentionally supporting STEM students of diverse backgrounds. The hub of such an educational system would be Individual Development Plans (IDPs), which would empower students to follow an intentional path during their studies, combined with a strong focus on reflection and connection through ePortfolios and experiential learning both in academic projects and extracurricular professional activities such as internships.
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Background

Greater diversity in the STEM workforce would provide a competitive advantage to the American labor force; it is well established that diversity on project teams leads to superior performance. Doug Wilde (2011) writes that teams exhibit superior performance when they are made up of individuals exhibiting

… the widest possible range of personalities, even though it takes longer for such psychologically diverse teams to achieve good cooperation. They must first cultivate an openness to opposing opinions and recognize the value of exploring a problem from various angles (p. 20).

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