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Invited Paper Session Abstracts - Building STEM Success From K-12 Through College

Invited Paper Session organized by the Leitzel Lecturer

Building STEM Success From K-12 Through College

Please note: all sessions are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT = UTC-4:00)

Saturday, August 5, 8:00 a.m. - 11:20 a.m., Ballroom A

Students enter college with a variety of backgrounds and life experiences that shape their trajectory. For students from historically marginalized backgrounds, it can be especially difficult to navigate college life and academics within an environment that was not made for them. As faculty members, there is a great deal that can be done to better understand and support our students. This session will introduce insights about the student experience and how we can support them, with ideas from both researchers and practitioners who work from K-12 through college.

Daniel Zaharopol, Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM)

Real Analysis: Gateway or Gatekeeper?

8:00 a.m. - 8:20 a.m.
Amy Bennett, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Yvonne Lai, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

There may be many factors that influence why a student fails, withdraws from, and/or chooses to repeat a course. However, our claim is that these factors are not all internal. In this project, we examine external factors that contribute to minoritized students’ experiences in proofs-based mathematics courses, particularly real analysis. We report on narratives from our data and implications for instructors and departments for supporting minoritized students.

Demographic Gaps or Preparation Gaps?: The Large Impact of Incoming Preparation on Performance of Students in Introductory Physics

8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.
Shima Salehi, Stanford University

We have studied the impact of incoming preparation and demographic variables on student performance on the final exam in the standard introductory calculus-based mechanics course at three different institutions. Multivariable regression analysis was used to examine the extent to which exam scores can be predicted by a variety of variables that are available to most faculty and departments. The results are surprisingly consistent across the institutions, with only math SAT or ACT scores and concept inventory prescores having predictive power. They explain 20%–30% of the variation in student exam performance in all three cases. In all cases, although there appear to be gaps in exam performance if one considers only demographic variables (gender, underrepresented minority, first generation), once these two proxies of incoming preparation are controlled for, there is no longer a demographic gap. There is only a preparation gap that applies equally across the entire student population. This work shows that to properly understand differences in student performance, it is important to do statistical analyses that take multiple variables into account, covering both subject-specific and general preparation. Course designs and teaching better matched to the incoming student preparation will likely eliminate performance gaps across demographic groups, while also improving the success of all students.

Welcoming Students into a Math Community

9:00 a.m. - 9:20 a.m.
Sarah Hunt, Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM)

Have you ever opened a door, walked into a room full of people, looked around, and said “I’m sorry, I must be in the wrong room”? Have you ever actually been in the right room, but felt internally that you were in the wrong place?

In this session we’ll talk about why creating a sense of belonging is so critical for student learning and success. Black, Latine, Indigenous, female, and/or first generation students often face unique challenges in feeling a sense of belonging in their STEM classes. In this session we’ll discuss these challenges and what we can do to reduce them. What proactive steps increase a sense of belonging? What practices benefit marginalized students? How can we create a welcoming community for all learners? This session will help participants deepen their understanding of the classroom environment, and learn practical steps to improve it.

How Do K-12 Schools Prepare Top Math Talent for Advanced Math Studies?

9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.
Al Lucero, The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

Math talent, or high interest and aptitude for deep problem solving, exists in every school and can be cultivated in every student. How do K-12 schools support their top math talent students who are not fully challenged by the traditional math learning pathway? The answer varies widely depending on numerous factors - notably the location of the school. This talk will discuss lessons learned from the pilot years of an advanced math enrichment program in a network of high needs schools in Los Angeles. We’ll examine the traditional model of math success in K-12 schools and offer alternative means to support growth of math talent. Lastly, we’ll offer insights into supporting top math talent students from high needs communities in their postsecondary advanced math studies.

Examining Mathematical Narratives and Supporting New Students in Mathematics

10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.
Aris Winger, Georgia Gwinnett College

In this talk we will think about the narratives that we hold in our discipline and how those narratives may hinder our ability to cultivate, and strengthen our relationships with our incoming students. We will dive into ways in which we can interrupt these narratives that will allow for us to create better, more equitable pathways to the mathematics major for all.Panel Discussion: Supporting Students on Pathways to STEM

Panel Discussion: Supporting Students on Pathways to STEM

10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.

What factors lead to STEM success for students through college? What can we do to facilitate that success? This panel brings together the speakers from this invited paper session, including both researchers and practitioners, to consider these issues and share how we can live up to our ideals. Come prepared to ask questions and learn from a variety of experiences and knowledge from all along students' journeys.