Evaluation of the Los Angeles City College’s STEM Pathways Program

Students talking in amphitheater

In 2016, Los Angeles City College (LACC) established the STEM Pathways program with support from a federal grant aimed at increasing the representation and success of low-income and Latinx students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. LACC, a public community college in the Los Angeles community that serves a large and diverse student population – over half of whom are Hispanic or Latinx. SRI Education partnered with LACC as the evaluator for the grant, conducting a five-year study examining the impact of the STEM Pathways program on students’ course success and continuation in STEM.


Los Angeles City College’s STEM Pathways Program is supporting success for students who are underrepresented in STEM disciplines.

About the STEM Pathways Program

STEM Pathways program was a collection of evidence-based initiatives aimed at increasing the representation of low-income and Latinx students in STEM. The goal of the program was to improve students’ degree completion and transfer to four-year colleges. The program provided academic support for students pursuing STEM coursework and degrees at LACC including:

  • Peer tutoring offered through a STEM Learning Center
  • A Supplemental Instruction program for students in select STEM courses
  • A book and technology loan program
  • Specialized support from a STEM counselor
  • An undergraduate research program
  • A math boot camp
  • Events geared toward STEM students

Two of these supports, the STEM Learning Center and Supplemental Instruction, were particularly popular. The STEM Learning Center was a drop-in peer tutoring center offering support with math, chemistry, biology, physics, and computer science. The STEM Pathways program also supported Supplemental Instruction in gateway STEM courses with low pass rates, such as Calculus I, II, and II, Introduction to General Chemistry, and Chemistry 101. Supplemental Instruction is a widely used, evidence-based program used to improve postsecondary academic performance. A supplemental instructor, typically a peer who has already succeeded in the focal course, participates in the course alongside other students and offers additional (supplemental) sections to support students as they progress through the course.

About SRI’s evaluation

SRI conducted a rigorous, quasi-experimental study to understand the impact of the STEM Pathways program on student success. This study used a matched comparison design to answer the following research questions for the program as a whole and for the two most popular program components, the STEM Learning Center and Supplemental Instruction:

  1. To what extent did the program reach the target population of students who are low-income and Latinx?
  2. What is the impact of program participation on course success?
  3. Does program participation increase the likelihood that students continue in STEM?

The study also examined whether participation in any program component in fall 2018 increased the likelihood that students would go on to attain a STEM degree or certificate.

The program yielded encouraging results. Students who participated in any program component obtained more STEM credits and were more likely to continue in STEM than similar peers who did not participate, with similar findings for students who received support from the STEM Learning Center. Further, students who participated in Supplemental Instruction had higher grades in the course that offered the support, were more likely to pass that course, and were more likely to continue in STEM compared with similar nonparticipants. To learn more, read SRI’s research brief on Los Angeles City College’s STEM Pathway’s Program: Participation and Impact.

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