The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program is a National Science Foundation (NSF) program that provides funding to alliances of colleges and universities to increase the number of STEM baccalaureate and graduate degrees awarded to populations historically underrepresented in these disciplines.
Evaluation is a key component of the NSF LSAMP program. Evaluation helps to ensure that a LSAMP project is meeting its goals and objectives and achieving outcomes for participating students. Evaluation also helps project teams identify areas where strategies and activities can be improved.
There are a number of different ways to evaluate LSAMP projects. One common approach is to use a mixed-methods approach, which combines quantitative and qualitative data. This approach can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of the project while providing rich process findings to inform project implementation. Quantitative data can be used to measure the project's impact on student outcomes, such as academic performance, retention, and graduation rates. Qualitative data can be used to understand the students' experiences in the program, and the factors that influence their success.
Some common outcome measures used to evaluate LSAMP projects include:
Sense of belonging: This outcome can be measured using surveys or interviews that ask students about their feelings of connection to the STEM community and their sense of belonging at their institution.
STEM identity: This can be measured using surveys or interviews that ask students about their identification with STEM fields and their commitment to pursuing a STEM career.
STEM self-efficacy: This can be measured using surveys or interviews that ask students about their confidence in their ability to succeed in STEM courses and careers.
In addition to these student measures, the impact of LSAMP on faculty and the institution can be measured. It is important to note that the best way to evaluate an LSAMP project will vary depending on the specific goals and objectives of the project. However, the measures described above can provide a good starting point for developing an evaluation plan.
In the Shaffer Evaluation Group's evaluation of the Central Florida STEM Alliance LSAMP project, a mixed methods evaluation design collects and analyzes data on project implementation and outcomes. The outcome evaluation utilizes both quantitative and qualitative data to identify student, faculty, and institutional impacts from this LSAMP project. Student outcome indicators include graduation rate, transfer rate, STEM self-efficacy and identity, and sense of belonging. The implementation evaluation monitors activity levels of students, faculty, and the participating institutions, using these to determine correlations to short-term student outcomes during the program, such as persistence and retention. The implementation evaluation also collects information to identify barriers or challenges that have impacted implementation, track improvement in service delivery, and assess the overall reach of the services provided. It also identifies actions taken by project staff to ensure the sustainability of strategies/activities beyond the grant funding period.
Evaluation of a LSAMP project can help ensure that it is meeting its goals and objectives and that it is making a positive impact on the lives of underrepresented students in STEM. In your LSAMP grant application, including a robust evaluation plan will improve the competitiveness of your application.
Are you applying for a LSAMP grant? Shaffer Evaluation Group welcomes the opportunity to partner with your institution on this grant opportunity. Once you have a draft grant application in hand, reach out to us for assistance with the evaluation plan.
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Byars-Winston, A. M., Estrada, M., & Bell, C. (2016). Racial and ethnic identity, STEM self-efficacy, and STEM persistence: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychologist, 51(2), 109-129.