Structures of becoming: The who, what, and how of holistic science advising

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Science Education

Publication Date



Addressing equity issues in science education requires a reorientation to how science students are advised and how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, particularly science, is viewed. STEM education is often figuratively described as a pipeline containing students who leak out before reaching the nexus of their STEM education/career journey. The authors of this paper argue that STEM education must be viewed from an ecosystems perspective, where students interact with one another, their physical environment and cultural contexts, and other humans who can support them in becoming STEM professionals. Within this STEM ecosystem, many individuals have a pivotal role in supporting students as they learn and develop within the science field. These individuals, particularly advisors, must possess knowledge, beliefs, skills, and dispositions that help students cultivate a sense of belonging, engage them in critical thinking about their academic and career choices, and aid their identity development in learning as becoming in STEM professions. The authors describe who these individuals are, the roles they play, and also provide practical examples, using vignettes, of how advisors can support students of color pursuing science degrees and careers. Finally, recognizing that students' STEM advising ecosystem operates at any grade level or stage of life, the authors have organized the descriptive portion of this study according to the following levels elementary, secondary, undergraduate, graduate, and career.