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Race Matters

By Inside Higher Ed

March 12, 2010

Black college instructors play a significant role in encouraging black science students to persist as science majors, according to a study by Cornell University doctoral student Joshua A. Price. He examined data on more than 157,000 students who enrolled as first-time freshmen in one of the 13 four-year universities in Ohio between 1998 and 2002 and who said that they planned to major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Price then analyzed the likelihood of black students who had a black instructor and female students who had a female instructor sticking with their STEM major compared to those who did not.

Price found that black students who had at least one black science instructor as freshmen were statistically more likely to remain STEM majors than those who did not. Meanwhile, the presence or non-presence of at least one female instructor had no significant statistical impact on the persistence of female STEM majors.

The study also found that black STEM students were more likely than white students to wind up in STEM courses or sections led by black instructors.

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