EDAD faculty receive National Science Foundation research grant

EDAD faculty receive National Science Foundation research grant

22 Jun 2020    

Educational Administration professors, Drs. Elvira Abrica and Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza, have recently been awarded a grant to work on a 5-year project called "SomosSTEM! An Early Community-Based Research Pathway for Improving Undergraduate Life Sciences Success at a Rural Hispanic Serving Institution."

The project is funded through the National Science Foundation, and in partnership with STEM faculty at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU), a rural Hispanic Serving Institution.

Beginning in fall 2020, the project’s goal is to increase the persistence of underrepresented minority life sciences majors at the critical transition from lower to upper-undergraduate levels. 

Specifically, they will evaluate the development of science identity, sense of belonging, and science self-efficacy, all are important psychosocial attributes related to college persistence and completion. 

“What is really unique and exciting about the project is the way it puts students at the center of knowledge creation and transmission as they move from hands-on science mentoring experiences to actually creating modules alongside scientists in the field, which will be later integrated into coursework for their student peers coming up after them,” Dr. Hatch said.

These modules, "intern-built course-based undergraduate research modules," are designed by students in consent with scientist mentors at partner organizations who are conducting projects that resonate with place-based, culturally-engaging ways of knowing and doing. 

Some examples of this include investigating bison-cattle hybridization conservation genetics with bison herd managers from Pojoaque Pueblo in New Mexico and investigating native seed bank restoration ecology in the field and greenhouse.

The project is led by Dr. Sarah Corey-Rivas at NMHU and Drs. Abrica and Hatch will be conducting the educational research portion of the project. 

"We will employ a longitudinal, multi-method research design to ascertain the effect of these integrated, research-based,  culturally informed, and community-based activities on the development of psychosocial attributes of college success, and in turn, persistence and degree completion." 

They will design and analyze the classroom-based survey effort and will also conduct field research and interviews on site at NMHU and local areas.

“Broad-access and regionally-serving institutions, like NMHU, are where most undergraduates pursue higher education in this country, and so are critically important yet perennially underfunded and undervalued,” Dr. Hatch said. “Yet, such institutions are often at the forefront of what it looks like to re-envision curricula and programs that truly serve students and local communities. 

“We are thrilled to be partnering with them to better understand what this looks like in practice and to draw lessons for the field.”

Educational Administration