Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences
Summary: Established in 2003, PEERS is the largest academic support program specifically for underrepresented minority and high life challenge (LC) students in STEM majors at UCLA. It is administered within the Division of Undergraduate Education’s Undergraduate Research Center for the Sciences in collaboration with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Through an innovative and integrated curriculum, the PEERS program erases and inverts the achievement gap, allowing at risk student populations in STEM to succeed at rates that exceed majority student populations.
Goals: To 1) improve academic success, 2) increase STEM persistence 3) reduce time to degree and 4) improve career trajectories for underrepresented minority and underserved student populations that typically have low success rates in STEM.
- >1600 UCLA undergraduates (2003-2020)
- 360 current members
- 86% URM, 60% women, 72% low income/1st generation
- Diverse interests in Health, Life, and Physical Science careers
The success of PEERS is evaluated through a controlled study where the academic performance of PEERS students is compared to a control group matched for socio-economic backgrounds, a control group of high academic achievers (MSAT>650), and ethnic majority STEM majors. Results show that:
Because PEERS students succeed academically, they have significantly higher retention rates than the controls and majority white/Asian STEM majors and have a substantially faster time to degree than STEM and non-STEM majors at UCLA, achieving 98% graduation in 5 years.
By helping PEERS students succeed in their STEM courses, they take more STEM courses and persist in STEM degrees and graduate faster. Not only does PEERS close the achievement gap across ethnicities, socioeconomic status, and academic preparation, it inverts the achievement gap by achieving academic success across multiple measures that greatly exceed URM and high LC students as well as White and Asian majority students.
Publications on PEERS
Toven-Lindsey et al. 2015. Increasing Persistence in Undergraduate Science Majors: A Model for Institutional Support of Underrepresented Students CBE—Life Sciences Education Vol. 14, 1–12, Summer 2015.
Sellami, N,, Toven-Lindsey, B, Levis-Fitzgerald, M, Barber, PH, Hasson, T (2021) A Unique and Scalable Model for Increasing Research Engagement, STEM Persistence, and Entry into Doctoral Programs. CBE—Life Sciences Education 20:arx, 1–11.