Pioneer researcher in minority STEM success to present national conference keynote at IUPUI

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A pioneer researcher in the study of the success of minority students who earn degrees in STEM fields will speak at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as part of a national conference this month.

The Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence, a regional center headquartered at IUPUI as a partnership between Chicago State University, IUPUI and Argonne National Laboratory, will host its inaugural national convention Oct. 20 to 22 in Indianapolis.

More than 160 presidents, provosts, STEM faculty and students from 85 organizations including 70 college and universities in 33 states have registered for the conference titled "A Call to Action: LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation) Model for Broadening Participation in STEM." Their aim is to share best practices for promoting recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students receiving degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields, and participating in the STEM workforce.

University of Pennsylvania professor Shaun R. Harper will deliver a keynote speech from 2:45 to 3:50 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, at IUPUI in the Hine Hall Auditorium, formerly University Place Conference Center. Harper, a professor of education, Africana studies and gender studies in the graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, is also director of the university’s Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.

Harper will present "Beyond Deficit Perspectives on Minoritized Students in STEM Fields."

Most published research on African Americans and Latinos in STEM fields is based on repetitive examinations of questions such as why so few pursue STEM majors and why their indicators of academic achievement are disproportionately lower than their white and Asian American counterparts, Harper writes in the abstract of his lecture.

"While answering those questions is essential to narrowing racial achievement gaps and attainment disparities in STEM, most studies continually amplify failure and deficits among minoritized students," Harper said. "As such, little is understood about those who, despite all that is known to complicate and undermine their achievement, manage to successfully navigate their ways to college and through the STEM postsecondary pipeline. Thus an anti-deficit achievement framework for research on students of color … will be presented in (my) session."

"We chose Harper (as a keynote speaker) because he looks at the glass as half full rather than half empty," said Kim Nguyen, co-principal investigator of the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence, created in 2012 to communicate best practices, tools and information garnered from the Louis Stokes Alliances of Minority Participation consortium to a broader audience.

"The focus of his research and publications are exactly what the LSAMP STEM focus is about," said Nguyen, also founding director of operations of the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education in the School of Education at IUPUI.

Harper advocates for classroom interactions such as just-in-time teaching, peer-led team learning, hands-on-research and faculty mentoring -- models that are promoted by the National Science Foundation and integral components of IUPUI’s curriculum plan.

Harper’s lecture follows a panel discussion, "Voices of Change: Impact of LSAMP," that will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Hine Hall Auditorium.

Both the panel discussion and the lecture are open to IUPUI faculty, staff and students, along with community guests, free of charge. All other conference activities will take place at the Indianapolis Marriott East Hotel, 7202 E. 21st St., and require conference registration.