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Perceptions of Underrepresented Students in the UVA Chemistry Department

Presenters Name: 
George Corbin
Co Presenters Name: 
Ibukunoluwa Omole
Primary Research Mentor: 
Jennifer Maeng
Secondary Research Mentor: 
2:00 - 3:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

It is common knowledge that undergraduate STEM students’ underrepresented minority status (i.e., Black, Hispanic, women, first-generation, low-income) has the potential to significantly impact their educational experience. Despite quantitative data on the persistence and achievement of these individuals, little is known about their perceptions of these experiences. This study aims to fill this gap. A mixed method approach consisting of interviews, focus groups, and analysis of university registrar records was used to understand the experiences of underrepresented minorities in STEM majors at the University of Virginia, with a particular focus on Chemistry students. Participants were students who had completed just general chemistry, general and organic chemistry, and chemistry majors. Preliminary findings of inductive analysis indicate several emergent themes: 1) Students perceived professor support and engagement as important to their confidence and success, 2) Students used class-specific resources more often than university resources, and 3) Students found a collaborative environment facilitated their learning as opposed to a competitive one. The results of this analysis will assist in subsequent stages of this project, namely developing interventions to support these students and their success in STEM fields.