Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM


LICHTENBERGER, Eric, Illinois Education Research Council, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Box 1064, Edwardsville, IL 62026-1064, LOCKE, Sharon, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Science Building Box 2224, Edwardsville, IL 62026 and GEORGE-JACKSON, Casey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1310 S. 6th St, Champaign, IL 61820,

Many fields struggle to develop and maintain a diverse and academically qualified talent pipeline into the profession. While diversity and academic quality are not at odds, many STEM fields, such as those within the geosciences, require strong academic qualifications but simultaneously lack sufficient gender and racial/ethnic diversity in terms of both college students in the pipeline and incumbents within the profession. Further, the academic qualifications become more stringent as individuals progress through the pipeline. For example, as individuals transition from high school to college and then through to bachelor’s degree completion those with stronger academic backgrounds are more likely to advance. This narrowing of the pipeline may decrease the diversity of the pool of students who eventually enter the scientific workforce.

The presentation will provide insight into the characteristics of high school students who maintain an early interest in either studying one of the geosciences in college or pursuing a geoscience career, with a particular emphasis on the composition of the aspirants based on gender, race/ethnicity, and academic qualifications. The composition of the group of early geoscience aspirants will be explored at two key transition points in the pipeline into the profession: a) college entry; and b) bachelor’s degree completion. Some of the early aspirants will potentially exit the pipeline before those transition points, altering the group’s composition in terms of the previously mentioned characteristics. By default, as the pipeline progresses, the early aspirant group will include proportionally fewer students who are less academically qualified as the students are tracked into college and potentially through bachelor’s degree completion. However, is diversity sacrificed as a result of the need for higher academic qualifications at the two transition points (college enrollment and degree completion)? The study draws from a census of the Illinois high school graduating class of 2003 (N=115,677), focusing on the sample of early geoscience aspirants (n=236). Using data from the National Student Clearinghouse, it longitudinally tracks college enrollment and degree completion outcomes until the end of the spring semester of 2010.