DePauw University’s STEM Mentoring Program has received a 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from higher education’s largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication.
The award, presented by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, honors colleges and universities that encourage and help underrepresented students enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – collectively known as STEM. DePauw’s program, along with 78 other recipients, will be featured in the magazine’s September issue.
Award winners are selected for their work to inspire and motivate the next generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through advocacy, teaching, research and successful programs and initiatives.
“We are thrilled that the STEM Mentoring Program recognizes the tremendous value of students and teachers in every STEM discipline,” said Dave Burke, DePauw’s vice president of academic affairs. “I’ve had the opportunity to hear STEM instructors personally present the meaning of this work to them, and I’ve heard from students who are benefiting from the learning from the departments. I walk through the building and see a loud, high-energy room with dozens of students talking about STEM topics and getting help from these peer mentors.
“The program has been incredibly successful because of the breadth of its implementation and the effectiveness of its impact on individual students—both those doing the counseling and those being counseled.”
The STEM Mentoring Program was launched as part of an “Inclusive Excellence” grant that DePauw received from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2018 to support medical research. The program aims to support “PEER” students, an acronym for ethnically marginalized people, and increase their sense of belonging in STEM.
STEM mentors are students, often PEER students, who are successful in STEM courses and serve as mentors and teaching assistants in introductory STEM courses in DePauw’s eight STEM departments. Since the program’s inception, more than 80% of STEM instructors are women, PEER students, first-generation students, or international students.
STEM instructors enroll in a partial-credit course to learn peer-learning techniques and explore issues related to identity and inclusion in STEM. You will meet with faculty partners weekly to discuss content, assignments, and activities, and participate in the corresponding classroom or lab at least once a week.
Guides, who are paid for their work, dedicate weekly “office hours” to work with students outside of the classroom. The program encourages faculty members to rethink their teaching to use active and evidence-based teaching practices and integrate STEM instruction into classroom sessions.
As of fall 2018, the program has trained 103 instructors, 49 of whom have helped DePauw STEM faculty members improve their introductory courses for more than 3,500 students.
“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, hard work and underrepresented students,” said Lenore Perlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. We need it.”