Division of the Vice Provost for University Life (VPUL)
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PublicationThe Act of Negotiating Icky Aspects and Minority Ambitions to Pursue Post-Secondary STEM(2016-01-01) Kumar, RashmiThe STEM pipeline is viewed as a universal metaphor representing the “path from elementary school to a STEM career” (Hill, Corbett, & Rose, 2010, p. 17). In the last few years, initiatives focused on strengthening the STEM pipeline have expanded in scale and emphases; from broadening the STEM pipeline to diversifying. In spite of multi-pronged efforts on the behalf of various entities, lower rates of participation in the STEM pipeline continue to prevail among individuals from ethnic, racial, and socio-economic groups; especially in physical sciences and engineering (Jacobs & Simpkins, 2005; Kahle, 2004; National Science Foundation, 2013; President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 2010, 2012; Rothwell, 2014). Students at the intersectionality of two or more variables of underrepresentation are exponentially disadvantaged within the STEM pipeline (NCES, 2009; Sadler, et al., 2012). If we are to craft effective ways of diversifying the STEM pipeline in the US, we have to start by first exploring socio-cultural variables vis-a´-vis the proportional representation of all segments of the US population (Hill, Corbett, & Rose, 2010; McDermot & Mack, 2014). Harris-Perry (2013) discusses women of color at the intersection of race and gender as they craft their progress in juxtaposition with stereotypes as well as subtle and actual prejudice. Historically, programs created to serve women have primarily benefitted White women and programs designed to serve minorities have mainly served minority men (Ong et al., 2011). And although, female students’ participation is increasing in life and health sciences; their involvement in physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics continues to be at or near historic lows (Hill, Corbett, & Rose, 2010; Rankins, Rankins & Inniss, 2014; Rothwell, 2014). Within the above context, this study explores the journeys and issues of concern/ambiguity of minority female students through last two years of high school into matriculation in postsecondary STEM degrees/majors. The students are enrolled in two high schools located in a starkly under resourced area. The study hypothesizes that the challenges experienced by the female students do not completely dissipate, rather, over time, the students learn to identify adaptive ways to be successful as they make use of available support and guidance. PublicationFrom Automation Joy to Perseverance in Engineering: How Parents Conceptualize the Impact of Robotics on Their Children(2012-01-01) Kumar, RashmiThe question guiding this research was, in what ways do parents perceive the impact of robotics in advancing their children’s interest in knowledge of and learning about science and engineering. This case study draws on communities of practice and activity theory to explore the lenses through which parents conceptualize the attributes of robotics towards increasing their children’s preparation and interest for engineering. The study revealed that parents perceive the acquisition of pertinent knowledge and skills as outcomes of interdisciplinary and authentic learning opportunities generated through series of goal directed activities. In addition, it was found that parents viewed beneficial characteristics of robotics across a wide range, from individual to collaborative learning; from acquisition of automation skills to immersion in multi-media projects; and from hands-on manipulation of raw materials to contentious discussions regarding optimal designs. In closing, the article situates the parents’ insights within recommendations garnered from some leading reports focused on strategies and conduits for broadening participation in science and engineering. PublicationThe Surprise Element: How Allaying Parents' Misconceptions Improves a Teacher's Communicative Process(2010-01-01) Kumar, RashmiChallenged by parents' misconceptions about the role of cooperative learning activities in developing their gifted children, a teacher began to mentor the parents. The act of mentoring those parents resulted in the teacher's longer-term professional development: specifically, creating a process of seeking structured feedback from parents and following up through iterative cycles of reflection, appraisal, and revision. Many teachers can identify a critical learning juncture that has had a notable influence on their learning and professional growth. Often, teachers locate such epiphanies within everyday teaching practices, advanced studies, or opportunities for professional development (Clarke and Hollingsworth 1994, 2002). The author, an elementary schoolteacher faced with parental opposition to using cooperative learning (CL) and group work in her classroom, set out to clarify parents' assumptions by designing opportunities to uncover and untangle their beliefs. Surprisingly, as a result of responding to the above challenge and achieving success in her initially established goals, the teacher experienced a transformative growth in her processes of communicating with parents.