ERIC Identifier: ED333943
Publication Date: 1991-06-00
Author: Quimbita, Grace
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges Los Angeles CA.
Preparing Women and Minorities for Careers in Math
and Science: The Role of Community Colleges. ERIC Digest.
Several recent studies of the condition of math and science education
at all levels have generated extreme concern about a predicted shortfall
of as many as 560,000 scientists and engineers over the next twenty years,
and a shortage of engineering faculty that is already being felt (National
Science Board, 1986; Task Force, 1988; McDonnell, Oakes, and Shavelson,
1989; Conciatore, 1989). One of these, the National Science Board's report,
Undergraduate Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education, considers
women, Blacks, and Hispanics to be a largely untapped pool with great potential
for increasing the scientific workforce of the nation.
The need for greater participation of minorities and women in science
and math careers, coupled with the fact that nearly half of all minority
college students attend a community college underscores the importance
of establishing two-year college programs for the recruitment and retention
of talented minority and women students in math and science disciplines.
Community colleges already play a significant part in educating minority
students who go on to earn engineering and science doctorates; 11.8% of
all minorities who earned doctorates in engineering in 1987 were graduates
of two-year institutions (Conciatore, 1989, p12). However, much remains
to be done.
This digest provides an overview of the literature on the community
colleges' special efforts to prepare underrepresented groups for careers
in math and sciences. Highlighting the scope and strategies of exemplary
programs, the digest explores projects and services at community colleges,
and linkages between community colleges, elementary and secondary schools,
and four-year schools.
PRECOLLEGE-COMMUNITY COLLEGE LINKAGES
In A Pilot Study on Needs in the Sciences in Community Colleges, Banks
and Railsback (1988) asked community college representatives about ways
that more students could be encouraged to enroll in science, mathematics,
and engineering technology programs. In addition to other ideas, such as
vocational counseling, internships, and scholarships, respondents supported
articulation programs with high schools and junior high schools; on-campus
events for high school students; tech-prep curricula with high schools;
and programs to bring high school faculty to campus.
Delgado Community College (1989) in Louisiana provides one example of
a successful secondary-postsecondary collaboration. Delgado runs a Math,
Science and Technology Summer Youth Enrichment Program for the Orleans
Parish School system. Minority junior high students who have demonstrated
above average abilities in math and science are invited to participate
in specially designed three-week summer mini-courses. Participants are
introduced to the basics in computers, robotics, electrical systems, radio
communications, and biomedical technology. The program's goals are to enhance
the students' problem-solving and analytical skills; expose them to real-life
science, math, and technology through field trips and speakers; offer hands-on
computer experiences; and help student evaluate their career options. Interviews
with the participating students confirmed that their interest in science
and technology had been stimulated.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
Almost half of the 91 colleges surveyed by Banks and Railsback offered
special programs to encourage women and/or minorities to enroll in science
and math programs and help them succeed. The literature indicates that
such programs tend to focus on one or more of the following goals:
*ensuring that students have the basic skills needed for success in
college-level math and science courses
*providing social and academic support networks
*helping students and their families afford the costs of college through
scholarships, financial aid, savings programs, and other means
*providing women and minority role models and mentors from within the
college and the community
*altering pedagogical approaches and curricula to accommodate students'
learning styles better.
For example, Washtenaw Community College in Michigan has implemented
a program to upgrade the basic skills of women and minority students and
provide the academic support needed for them to succeed in high technology
occupational training programs (Leach and Roberts, 1988). Counseling, peer
support, financial aid, and student advocacy are important components for
ensuring student persistence.
Greater Hartford Community College in Connecticut also offers a developmental
science-oriented program for minority students (Williams and Cox, 1991).
The Pre-Nursing program is a full-time, 15-week, non-credit, pass/fail
remedial sequence offered each spring to prepare students to enter the
associate degree nursing program. Pre-Nursing includes courses in communication
skills, mathematics, science, and an introduction to nursing. The students
learn to overcome cultural barriers, improve decision making, and value
academic achievement. Financial support is provided for students throughout
the pre-nursing and associate degree programs.
American River College in the Los Rios Community College District in
California implemented the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement/Minority
Engineering Program (MESA/MEP) to serve as a bridge between high school
MESA programs and university MEP's (Lee, 1990). MESA/MEP activities include
scholarships, awards, and honors; leadership development efforts; recruitment
of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students; enrichment programs,
such as tours to universities and resume workshops; and support services,
including weekly meetings, study halls, and class clustering.
Evergreen Valley College's ENLACE program involves an all-Hispanic team
of educators and community members in efforts to improve the retention
and matriculation of Hispanic students (Chavez and Maestes-Flores, 1991).
Because mathematical skills lie at the heart of student success in the
general education/transfer curriculum, ENLACE provides students with individualized,
nontraditional counseling, core mathematics courses, and contact with Hispanic
mentors from such professions as engineering, computer science, medicine,
accounting, and business management. These professionals are invited to
class to lecture on applied mathematics, explain how math relates to their
professional area, and participate in small-group problem-solving sessions
LINKAGES WITH FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTIONS
The Task Force on Women, Minorities, and the Handicapped in Science
and Technology has recommended the formation of partnerships between two-year
colleges with significant minority enrollments and four-year institutions
as another means of involving underrepresented groups in scientific and
technical fields. Such linkages include:
* program and course articulation
* recruitment and outreach campaigns from the university to the community
* programs to afford two-year college students hands-on experience with
the more sophisticated and specialized equipment found in university labs.
An example of this last type of program is the Community College Summer
Research Program involving the Los Angeles Community College District,
Glendale Community College, and Occidental College, a four-year liberal
arts college (Devarics, 1989; Alexander, 1989). Since 1984, Occidental
has offered two-year college students, mostly minorities and women, the
opportunity to engage in research on a for-pay basis. Paired with one Occidental
student, each community college student performs experiments related to
an Occidental professor's principal research in such fields as chemistry,
biology, and geology. The founder of the research program, Chris Craney,
contends that a relationship exists between students doing research and
deciding what aspect of science to enter. All 30 of the students who had
participated in the program as of November 1989 had gone on to complete
degrees at Occidental or other four-year colleges.
Community colleges are in a unique position to increase the number of
people in the scientific talent pool and to diversify its ethnic and gender
composition. Doing so will require a serious commitment to recruiting talented
students, encouraging them to pursue science and math careers, providing
necessary facilities and academic services, and ensuring a smooth transition
from the two-year to four-year college.
Alexander, Donnell. "Research Program Lures Community College Students."
Los Angeles Times, Glendale Section, p1 part 9, June 29, 1989.
Banks, Debra; Railsback, Gary. A Pilot Study of Needs in the Sciences
in Community Colleges. Los Angeles, CA: Center for the Study of Community
Colleges, 1988. 33pp. (ED 297 801)
Chavez, Mauro; Maestes-Flores, Margarita. "Minority Student Retention:
ENLACE." New Directions for Community Colleges; v19 n1 p63-67 Summer 1991.
Conciatore, Jacqueline. "Educators Look to Minorities and Women to Fill
Engineering Pipeline." Community College Week; v2 n7 p12 November 13, 1989.
Delgado Community College. Delgado Community College/Sears-Roebuck Keeping
America Working. Math, Science and Technology Summer Youth Enrichment Program.
New Orleans: Author, 1989. 24pp. (ED 313 076)
Devarics, Charles. "Occidental Program Promotes Science for Community
College Students." Community College Week; v2 n7 p11 November 13, 1989.
Leach, Juliette D.; Roberts, Shirley I. "A Soft Technology: Recruiting
and Retaining Women and Minorities in High Tech Programs." Community, Technical,
and Junior College Journal; v59 n2 p34-37 Oct.-Nov. 1988.
Lee, Beth S.; And Others. MESA/MEP at American River College. Year One
Evaluation Report. Sacramento, CA: Los Rios Community College District,
Office of Planning and Research, 1990. 45 pp. (ED 319 472)
McDonnell, L.M.; Oakes, J.; Shavelson, R.J. Indicators for Monitoring
Mathematics and Science Education: A Sourcebook. Santa Monica, CA: Rand
National Science Board. Undergraduate Science, Mathematics and Engineering
Education. Washington, DC: Author, 1986. 67 pp. (ED 272 398)
Task Force on Women, Minorities, and the Handicapped in Science and
Technology. Changing America: The New Face of Science and Engineering.
Final Report. Washington, DC: Author, 1989. 47 pp. (ED 317 386)
Williams, Ronald A.; Cox, Mary Anne. "Minority Student Recruitment:
A Connecticut Model." New Directions for Community Colleges; v19 n1 p39-46