Iowa State University (ISU) in partnership with researchers at the Education Development Center (EDC) and the University of North Carolina Charlotte will implement an NSF EHR Core Research (ECR) project to study the experiences, perspectives, and stories of successful doctoral students and recent PhDs from underrepresented groups in mathematics. The project will develop interview instruments and conduct in-depth, semi-structured interviews with four cohorts: newly accepted students, early graduate students (pre-qualifying exams), advanced graduate students (dissertation level), and recent PhDs (0-5 years since graduation). The interview instruments could be useful to the field beyond this project and the use of these four cohorts will add to the current literature. The research questions in the study are: What are lived experiences of successful underrepresented students who are pursuing mathematics PhDs? and What formal and informal structures are perceived by doctoral students as effective supports?
The research will build knowledge to inform decisions about changing mathematics department cultures and practices to better recruit, retain and graduate mathematicians from underrepresented groups. The project will result in survey results from 100 graduate students and recent graduates and twelve composite counterstories illustrating the student experiences and support systems that result in success for students from underrepresented groups. The counterstories and other results are expected to disrupt current perceptions about who can be successful in graduate school, and how. The project includes plans for strategic dissemination of the research results to stakeholders and practitioners.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.