Increasing Diversity in Higher Education Quantitative and Qualitative Research
A Peacemaking Project by Diana H.
What is the injustice we are solving?
University statistics courses tend to be lecture-based and computation-heavy with limited real-world application, where students struggle to see the relevance of learning statistics (Allen et al., 2012). Students with limited mathematical preparation often experience math-phobia, a low sense of belonging in the field, and poor academic performance (Tishkovskaya & Lancaster, 2012). Poor academic performance, especially for URM, can affect students’ sense of self-efficacy, scientific identity, persistence, and retention (Peters, 2014). These findings tend to be consistent for students with disabilities, females, and individuals who identify as gender non-conforming (Peters, 2014). Therefore, we created a course that equips students with quantitative, qualitative, and data visualization skills. In this course, students apply these concepts to produce a project. We aim to create a unique space where all students can have weekly support and validation in developing their own research projects Peace first mentorship and funds can help us improve our work and design ways to showcase students’ work. Goal by May 31st: In addition to the food, we would like to use gift cards which would help us identify new strategies from student interviews and think-aloud interviews about what teaching strategies are impacting their learning the most. One barrier to interviews is that they are time-intensive. We administer voluntary surveys and interviews to students but students do not always provide a lot of detail, since the surveys and interviews are voluntary. This is often attributed to the fact that student time is limited. When there is funding for incentives, we have seen that more students sign-up to provide us with valuable information and are happy to spend an hour or two with us to provide insightful information that has transformed the way we see pedagogy. Student perspectives are a valuable resource that have guided our research and pedagogical improvement since 2010. Sometimes our limited perspectives are a barrier to change-- we know this is definitely true for us. However, by listening and empathizing with students and instructors, we have learned more than we could have ever imagined. Student perspectives will help us assumptions in teaching and high-impact teaching strategies that improve student learning. This is a form of compassion because we hope to help instructors and our campus community empathize and respond to student perspectives. We will interview observers and students on their perspectives of our inclusive teaching model and on the event’s impact. We will analyze interview data and write up a short article on effective teaching practices that will be disseminated to instructors via the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) or the Division of Equity and Inclusion (EI). This will be placed in an equity-oriented guidebook we are working on for the future which will also be disseminated through either the CTL or EI.
Our Compassionate Solution:
To solve this injustice of low numbers of underrepresented minority students and women in data science and research
we will address the lack of spaces provided to underrepresented minority students and women on research
by teaching a quantitative and qualitative research methods course where students can have support and validation in developing their own research projects
Our Project Plan:
- Validate and recognize diverse student researchers at an event that showcase their work by May 31st
- Collect interview data from students and observers on the efficacy of the event by May 31st
- Collect interview data on the efficacy of our teaching practices that build on, leverage, and validate student’s strengths and interests by May 31st
- Use gift cards to incentivize students to provide interview data by May 31st
- Raffle gift card to incentivize campus community to attend event by May 31st
- Provide food at the event to incentivize attendance by May 31st
- Produce short article on effective teaching and event practices for dissemination by May 31st
We will increase my / our compassion by...
creating a safe and supportive space for underrepresented minority students and women to present their own research projects. We seek to emphasize with underrepresented minority students and women presn who are learning research methods for the first time, in order to create an event for them to present their findings at. We seek to aid with this difficulty, by allowing students to pursue their research interests in order to make the course content and event more meaningful to students, which will make it easier to for them to understand. Goal by May 31st: In addition to the food, we would like to use gift cards which would help us identify new strategies from student interviews and think-aloud interviews about what teaching strategies are impacting their learning the most. One barrier to interviews is that they are time-intensive. We administer voluntary surveys and interviews to students but students do not always provide a lot of detail, since the surveys and interviews are voluntary. This is often attributed to the fact that student time is limited. When there is funding for incentives, we have seen that more students sign-up to provide us with valuable information and are happy to spend an hour or two with us to provide insightful information that has transformed the way we see pedagogy. Student perspectives are a valuable resource that have guided our research and pedagogical improvement since 2010. Sometimes our limited perspectives are a barrier to change-- we know this is definitely true for us. However, by listening and empathizing with students and instructors, we have learned more than we could have ever imagined. Student perspectives will help us assumptions in teaching and high-impact teaching strategies that improve student learning. This is a form of compassion because we hope to help instructors and our campus community empathize and respond to student perspectives. We will interview observers and students on their perspectives of our inclusive teaching model and on the event’s impact. We will analyze interview data and write up a short article on effective teaching practices that will be disseminated to instructors via the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) or the Division of Equity and Inclusion (EI). This will be placed in an equity-oriented guidebook we are working on for the future which will also be disseminated through either the CTL or EI.
How will you show courage?
We will show courage by initiating and developing at UC Berkeley the first safe and supportive space for underrepresented minority students and women learning quantitative and qualitative research methods for the first time. This is courageous because most research classes move at fast pace, but rather than following the norm, we are seeking to shape a new norm, by creating the first a quantitative and qualitative research methods class at UC Berkeley that prioritizes students needs over content. We will address our students needs by employing effective teaching strategies (e.i.., inquiry-based learning, gamification, and universal design for equity). By applying inquiry-based learning, we allow students to explore their own interests through their projects, which we will then help guide and supply the tools needed in order for students to complete their projects. This allows students to develop a sense of meaning and belonging in the classroom, which is important students is important because underrepresented minority students and women are typically subject to stereotype threat and lack a sense of belonging within the classroom. By holding an event showcasing each students’ research project, we are are not only giving them a space to pursue their own interests, but also validating and encouraging first-time researchers interests and abilities. As mentioned above, gift cards would help us identify new strategies from student interviews and think-aloud interviews about what teaching strategies are impacting their learning the most.
How will you collaborate with others?
We, the instructors, will collaborate with students to democratically develop an event that is responsive to their needs and meaningful to them. We will also work with the UC Berkeley's Center for Teaching and Learning and UC Berkeley’s Division for Equity and Inclusion, in order to get feedback and support on the event plans and ideas. We will interview observers and students on their perspectives of our inclusive teaching model and on the event’s impact.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)
We will measure students’ outcomes through surveys and interviews. These surveys and interviews (funded by gift cards) will allow us to measure whether or not students feel safe and supported, a sense of belonging, improved stereotype threat, and validated. Since this event is created for underrepresented minority students and women learning research methods for the first time, it makes the most sense to look at our students outcomes to know whether or not we are moving in the right direction. We will interview observers and students on their perspectives of our inclusive teaching model and on the event’s impact.
- Guide students in pursuing a research project pertaining to their interests
- Ask students to work with each other to come up with ideas for an event to showcase their individual projects
- Discuss designing a meaningful and authentic validation activity
- Get feedback from different stakeholders in UC Berkeley's Center for Teaching and Learning and UC Berkeley’s Division for Equity and Inclusion on the event
- Advertise event on campus; raffle off gift card during event
- Interview students and classroom observers
- Offer gift card to those who are interviewed
- Analyze interview data and write up teaching practices that will be disseminated and placed in the equity-oriented guidebook
How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?
Since underrepresented students and women in STEM are subject to stereotype threat in research and STEM fields, our event’s main goal was to provide an inclusive and supportive space for these students to develop and share their research projects with their peers and receive constructive feedback. During the class event, students were excited to present their project to their small groups/the entire audience. Many students went beyond the paper format and created powerpoints presentations (which were not required) to better showcase their findings. This project deepened our understanding of the injustice by highlighting how important community and validation are in developing a scientific identity and a sense of competence, which many students indicated on their surveys. From student data, we found that the barriers to diversifying underrepresented minority students in STEM often are that the content is hard to understand and connect with. By adjusting our practices based on student data, we were able to overcome this barrier by giving students a voice in their education. This allowed us to adjust to the educational needs of underrepresented minority students and women in our quantitative and qualitative research methods class.
How did your community change as a result of your project?
Based on the student interviews and surveys we collected, the majority of our students rated that our class improved their research design and made them feel more competent using statistical analysis. In an interview, one interviewee said that since instructors did not assume background knowledge in class, the material was easier to understand. One student wrote in their survey that developing a statistics project in the class showed them how their questions played into larger systems in our society and how qualitative research backed by quantitative analysis is necessary in order to make effective change in the world. During the final event, after a student presented their research project/pilot study, peers, instructors, and attendees tell the student both one thing that could strengthen their project and one thing that they really liked. This was the event’s validation activity. Based off of the student surveys we collected, the vast majority of the students really liked the activity and rated that it impacted their sense of competence in research a lot. One student wrote in their survey that the validation activity made them feel like their work paid off, and another wrote that it made them feel like their research was fulfilling. The majority of students rated that the event helped improve their research project/design a lot. According to interviews and surveys, many students said that the feedback they received and the experience of presenting their research in front of other was not only valuable practice, but also helped them realize how they could better strengthen their research design/project.
How many people were impacted by your project?
Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?
We came up with the number of people impacted by our project by looking at interviews, our research team, student surveys, and people who took participated in our students' projects (as indicated by their pilot study presentation/paper). We only included those who had actually participated in the students' projects in the number. We did not include the number of people students proposed they would study when their research project was in the form of a research proposal (meaning it has not been done yet). If we included the number of people that students research proposal indicated they would study, the number would have increased by the hundreds.
How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?
Our team had already read research studying the stereotype threat underrepresented minority students and women feel in research and STEM fields. Therefore we sought to learn more about the people affected by the injustice by having our students take weekly pre- and post-tests and feedback forms as well as a survey on the final day of class. Using our students' feedback forms, instructors were able to identify our students preferred modes of learning. Using pre- and post-tests, instructors used gain score to gauge students learning and determine which topics were harder for students to understand and therefore needed extra review. For instance, the week we taught quantitative data analysis using STATA software, we found that students had a low gain score. This meant that many of the students still did not understand the topic. Combining this, with students writing in the feedback forms that the concepts were too hard to understand in just one class period, we learned that our students needed more time with learning how to do commands on the STATA software. Therefore, we devoted the next class period to just reviewing how to use the STATA software. This demonstrated to us that topics that are more unfamiliar, unintuitive, and complex require more time to learn than topics such as research ethics. Using interview and the survey data at the end of the semester, we were able to see how the class as a whole and the final event positively impacted our students sense of scientific identity, sense of belonging, and sense of competence. One interviewee stated that she felt supported by the instructors, more so than in some of her other classes on campus where she is one of the few underrepresented minority students. In our class, she said she felt comfortable asking instructors questions.
What did your team learn?
Our team learned how to more effectively teach quantitative and qualitative research methods to diverse students. By analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data (weekly course surveys and posttests), we adapted our teaching style to meet the needs of our students and learned which strategies students found most helpful when learning certain topics. We were also able to identify which topics need more review than other topics. What we have learned from this semester has better shaped our understanding of how to best support and meet the needs of underrepresented minority students and women in STEM, which will be useful in future iterations of this course in the following semesters. The students in our class opened our eyes to how capable undergraduate students can be in conducting their own independent research. They performed beyond our already-high expectations, giving us hope for the future of research and STEM for all students.
What challenges did your team overcome?
Our team overcame the barrier of including different ideas for presentations style at the final event. As instructors, we found that it was challenging to accommodate how some students wanted to present their work to the entire class while others preferred to present in small groups. In order to create an inclusive environment and give the students agency in the event planning, the instructor team decided that it was important to incorporate both presentation styles into the event in order to make students comfortable when presenting their research. We did this by having those who wanted to present in front of everyone go first, after which the rest of the class would then split off into small groups to present.
How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?
To involve other people in our project, we coordinated with students in each class to democratically decide how they would like to present their final presentations (such as whether to have an open or closed event, whether to present in small groups or in front of the class, etc). Students collaborated together in an open class discussion to decide which food they would like to see at the event. In order to increase engagement and foster a sense of relevance to the course, we also designated certain students as official photographers. The photographs will be used to advertise the course in the future. We were able to use the gift cards in a raffle at the end of the event to incentivize people to come to the final presentations, as well as encourage participation in post-semester surveys and interviews. In order to expand this project, the instructors created a Facebook event inviting the Berkeley community to come view our student’s final presentations. Instructors advertised the event in various student Facebook groups associated with the university.
What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?
All you need to start is an idea. From there it may seem slow or time-consuming, but you need to take baby steps in order to build upon and actualize your idea. This requires a team and asking for help. Asking for help is crucial, especially if you have not done this before. Learning from others helps you learn from their mistakes so that you don’t make them as well. Also, if you are helping a target group of people, be sure to include them and give them agency in the process. This will help ensure that you are able to more properly represent their interests in the process.
5 July 2018 13:07
I'm pasting your comment down here on the new project site so that everything's in one place. So you know, we can only give out mini-grants once a year to each project, so you'll need to wait until 2019. Thanks so much for your incredible work!
July 03, 2018
Thank you so much Avril for your feedback. I really really appreciate it. Do you think I could apply for funds again for this coming semester?
28 June 2018 17:53
I also wanted to add--there are a few questions you may not have seen on the reflection form--could you double check to make sure they're all complete? Thanks so much!
Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.
Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:
Diana, this is such a fascinating project -- I am so glad I got the chance to read it! Congratulations on showing true courage, compassion, and capacity for collaborative change in designing a quant program around the needs and wants of underrepresented STEM students at Berkeley. If I had had this kind of patient, tailored, and inclusive foundational quantitative course, I would have become a very different student! Your project is really well done: it is both thoughtful and scientific. I really appreciated you taking the time to measure learning after each session, to be iterative in your instruction, and to honor individuals' preferences for presentation style: you really lived the values you wanted to encourage during this project.
This also seems like an incredibly scalable and overdue intervention that can and should be on other college campuses. You may want to consider sharing your curriculum and philosophy with other STEM or business school programs in the UC system and beyond. Thank you for sharing this really important initiative with us. Good luck with the project, and keep up the good work!
We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!
6 March 2018 8:34
Thanks so much for posting this project. I love what you are working on. I am really passionate about using data and about helping others see the power of using data in ways that can support their work.
As part of the Peace First project-making process, we give formal feedback on your compassionate insight. Once your insight is all set, then you can move forward with your mini-grant application if you need funds to help move your idea into action!
I want to give you feedback on your insight:
"To solve this injustice of
low numbers of underrepresented minority students and women in data science and research
we will address
the lack of spaces provided to underrepresented minority students and women on research
teaching a quantitative and qualitative research methods course where students can have support and validation in developing their own research projects"
I think your insight is really strong. You really show that you want to address a very specific root cause of the injustice that you have identified and you have a clear idea of the solution you want to use to address this injustice.
I would love to learn more about what stage your project is at and what areas are you hoping to get the most support with. If you haven't, maybe have a look at our toolkit to give you ideas to share your plan like including SMART Goals, identifying indicators and steps to follow and other areas that may help you make your project even stronger. You can find it at https://www.peacefirst.org/resource/peacemaker-manual
I look forward to hearing more!
6 March 2018 11:23
26 March 2018 12:57
We're excited to hear more about your ideas to address this important injustice! I wanted to let you know about an opportunity -- if you are interested in getting some funding for materials that you need to carry out your project, you can apply for a mini-grant of up to $250.
The deadline to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant Application is March 31st if you want to remain eligible to apply to attend a Peace First Accelerator.
As you craft your plan, be sure to consider the feedback we gave you on your compassionate insight, and check out our project planning tools for help turning your insight into a concrete action plan: https://www.peacefirst.org/plan-your-project
Then, through your dashboard, you can make any changes you want to make to your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.
Let us know if you have questions. We're looking forward to supporting your project!
5 April 2018 15:26
Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.
The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below
I am so excited about the issue you are addressing – and the interesting, targeted approach you are taking to help build the skills necessary for success in populations who are particularly underrepresented in the data sciences. You have a clear rationale for the activities you are asking Peace First to support and have identified a series of outputs that tie into the overall goals of your initiative. Your plan shows particularly profound compassion and empathy as you strive to deepen your understanding of the experiences of the students you are working with. I wondered whether you also have underrepresented students helping to design and lead the project?
Things to consider:
For me, one of the strongest elements of your project is your plan to put together guidance – building on your research – that you can share with Schools so that different techniques you uncover can be built into teaching methods more widely across your university. I was curious whether you already have relationships with members of the CTL or EI and how you are getting buy in from instructors and faculty members?
You might also want to consider whether there are groups of students like yours working on (or who might be interested in learning about) this issue in universities across the US. Sharing your research and building alliances across a network of universities could strengthen your project and impact in the long-term, as well as helping to build credibility with faculty at UC Berkeley.
Congratulations and best of luck with your project!