What are strategies for recruiting students with disabilities to STEM fields?

DO-IT Factsheet #499

The Midwest Alliance was funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the number of individuals with disabilities successfully pursuing academic studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Alliance staff recruited students with disabilities into STEM fields in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Through their efforts, they identified several effective methods for recruiting students. They include:

The lack of published program information and research on recruitment of students with disabilities in STEM fields makes it difficult to identify best practices, the existing literature suggests that there is a need for systemic and institutional support for recruitment and retention of students with disabilities in STEM fields in order to create a positive climate for diversity. The literature also suggests that high school teachers, special education teachers, guidance counselors, and postsecondary faculty can influence whether students with disabilities see STEM fields as career options.

This article was based on information reported in Martin, J.K., Stumbo, N.J., Martin, L.G., Collins, K.D., Hedrick, B.N., Nordstrom, H., and Peterson, M. (2011). Recruitment of students with disabilities: Exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 24(4), 285-299 and developed through the RDE Collaborative Dissemination Project [1] (National Science Foundation Research in Disabilities Education Award #HRD-0929006) and the Midwestern Alliance in STEM (National Science Foundation Research in Disabilities Education Award #HRD-0533197).