2019 Mini-grant Project

Increasing the number of under-represented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is imperative for furthering Canadian innovation and productivity by increasing the diversity of ideas, experiences and perspectives in STEM fields. Many post-secondary campuses have STEM initiatives to support students by creating a space where a unique set of resources can flow between individuals.

However, few studies have examined the roles that faculty members play in these networks, and their influence on students’ identity work as they move through their academic programs. Using a social network approach, social interactions can be captured to illuminate the …

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Increasing the number of under-represented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is imperative for furthering Canadian innovation and productivity by increasing the diversity of ideas, experiences and perspectives in STEM fields. Many post-secondary campuses have STEM initiatives to support students by creating a space where a unique set of resources can flow between individuals.

However, few studies have examined the roles that faculty members play in these networks, and their influence on students’ identity work as they move through their academic programs. Using a social network approach, social interactions can be captured to illuminate the tools and resources that faculty members bring to these networks.

This work addresses the current gap in the literature regarding the resources that students access by participating in equity-based STEM initiatives, and the networks that faculty members draw on to make these resources available. This study will identify the tools that are available through social interactions and the influence of these tools on the development of STEM identities for under-represented populations in STEM.

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Updates and Project Proposal

Knowledge and Skills Brought to the Project

Allison Gonsalves is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. Her research explores students’ identity work in relation to science, with an emphasis on understanding the experiences of under-represented students in STEM. Dr. Gonsalves is presently the PI on an FRQSC-funded study examining science major’s engagement in outreach and the impact this has on their career-minded science identities. She is also the PI on a SSHRC-funded study aimed at developing strategies to support novice teachers as they navigate multiple epistemologies of science in their teaching practices with non-dominant youth in outreach contexts. Drs. Gonsalves and Chestnutt have collaborated since 2018 on research examining the role of social networks in under-represented graduate students’ identity work in physics.

Hannah Renée Chestnutt is a researcher and instructor in McGill University’s Department of Integrated Studies in Education. She graduated with a PhD from the University of Glasgow where her doctoral research used a social network analysis approach to explore the potential of professional learning partnerships to ameliorate educational inequity in Scottish schools. Before undertaking doctoral work Dr. Chestnutt was a teacher in Scotland, the United States and Canada. Her experience of more than a decade of teaching young people from diverse backgrounds led to her current interests in equity in education and the use of innovative methodologies such as social network analysis to study inequity.