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Really has it been 10 years?

Yes it has. Ten years ago Eric Jolly, Lesley Perlman and I decided that we had to figure out why so many efforts to increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) diversity led to so little success. The end result of our work was the ECC Trilogy, which is composed of:

Engagement: Having an orientation to the sciences and/or quantitative disciplines that includes such qualities as awareness, interest and motivation.

Capacity: Possessing the acquired knowledge and skills needed to advance to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.

Continuity: Institutional and programmatic opportunities, material resources and guidance that support advancement to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.

Our biggest point was that each of the factors was necessary, but not sufficient, that all three factors must be present for student success. When we started to apply the Trilogy to diversity “issues” we found that yup we were right. For example:

Middle class girls have pretty much the same STEM Capacity and Continuity as do middle class boys (actually sometimes their capacity is higher) but the percentage of women entering engineering has been stalled for the last 20 years. No Engagement, no continuation.

In mathematics African-American fourth and eighth grade students are more apt than white students to agree with the statement “I like mathematics” (Engagement), but since they disproportionately attend schools with lower quality teachers (i.e., teachers with less experience, fewer certifications and even lower attendance at their teaching jobs) and less background in mathematics and science they have little Continuity. Little Continuity means little opportunity to develop Capacity and no continuation.

I could go on and on. Anyway we hoped that the ECC Trilogy might have a modest impact but we were wrong- it took off. The tenth anniversary seemed good time for us to reflect on the roles the ECC Trilogy has been playing in education and what its future might be. So take a look at our reflections and see what you think.