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OPINION: Research confirms an urgent need to improve how students are supported when choosing college majors

The Hechinger Report – William Hansen and Johnny C. Taylor Jr.

“Earlier this year, a first-generation college student told a disturbing story in The Hechinger Report. She was her sixth year at a four-year college, having changed her major twice and taken time off because she lacked a clear roadmap of what she wanted and how to get there. This, sadly, is not an unfamiliar tale. Choosing a college major is one of the most important decisions students make. It influences everything from employment and earning potential to overall health and happiness. It fuels the lifeblood of our economy – a diverse talent pipeline with the skills and knowledge employers need from a 21st century workforce.”(more)

Dive Into STEM: Attracting, retaining qualified and diverse faculty is a prerequisite to building the field

Education Dive – Shalina Chatlani

“As we try to digest how to get more women and underrepresented minorities into STEM fields, or really any other type of career, experts often say that one key factor is that students see in themselves a future through the people they look up to. In other words, it’s difficult for a girl from a diverse background to see herself getting into a computer science field, when the demographics of her class and her professor is the complete opposite of anything she’s ever known.”(more)

How A Stereotype Threat Intervention Can Help Students in STEM Fields

KQED News Mind/Shift – Esther Landhuis

“The results indicate that directly discussing the phenomena of stereotype threat appears to help students of ethnic groups underrepresented in science as well, if not better, than traditional approaches that bolster students without specifically talking about stereotypes. Past research shows minority students can be helped by being prompted to think about things they care about like sports, friends, or religion. It’s called affirmation training. Asking students to recall these values nurtures a broader sense of self and makes individual threats, such as a math test, seem less daunting, says Stanford psychologist Greg Walton. Indeed, a study by Walton and colleagues showed that so-called affirmation training can improve women’s attitudes about school and raise their science GPAs.”(more)

Oral storytelling skills impact reading differently for African American boys and girls

Science Daily – Staff Writer

“The oral storytelling skills of African American preschoolers make a difference in how quickly their reading skills develop, according to a new study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Researchers say the effect is much different for girls and boys. “Knowing how to tell a clear and coherent story is an important skill for helping young children to develop strong reading skills, which, in turn, can help them to be successful across a number of different subjects in school,” said FPG advanced research scientist Nicole Gardner-Neblett. “Prior research suggests that historical and cultural factors foster strong storytelling skills among African American children, which has implications for their development as readers.'”(more)

Study shows preschool benefits middle-class kids, with biggest boost for black youngsters

Medical X-Press – Kathleen Maclay

“Preschools that strongly promote academics boost the early literacy and math skills of children from middle-class families, according to a nationwide study released today by researchers at the UC Berkeley. “This is the first time that we have seen remarkable gains for the average preschooler nationwide,” said Bruce Fuller, a UC Berkeley professor of education and public policy, who directed the research. Educators and scholars have long agreed that quality preschool yields sustained benefits for poor children, while earlier studies revealed disappointing results from average pre-K programs for middle-class peers.”(more)

Reaching 90% Grad Rate Unlikely Without an Acute Focus on Low-Income, Minority Kids, Report Finds

The 71 Million – Mark Keierleber

“As the national high school graduation rate continues to rise — it hit a record 83.2 percent last year — the leaders of a campaign to raise that number to 90 percent by 2020 said Wednesday they fear the country will not meet that goal. Hitting that ambitious target would require a far more intense focus on minority and low-income students, who continue to lag behind. “We’ve got to be real about what the barriers are to success for students,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of the America’s Promise Alliance.”(more)