This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

STEM Summer Bridge Programs: Implications for College Counseling and Social Justice in Higher Education




Gonzales, Matthew

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


Ethical counselors promote social justice (American Counseling Association, 2014). Based on counselors’ specialty and site of practice, promoting social justice involves different goals and methods. One way for college counselors to promote social justice is to support students from groups historically excluded from higher education at their institution. Based on multiple personal identities, higher education is not representative of the overall US population (National Center for Education Statistics, 2023). The greatest driver of the underrepresentation of students from historically excluded groups is retention (Shaw et al., 2021). The Culturally Engaging Campus Environments model of student retention (CECE; Museus, 2014) asserts that institutions and their agents, e.g., college counselors, should engage their diverse student population’s cultural selves to support student retention. One program which was designed to be congruent with the CECE model is the Auburn University STEM Summer Bridge program (SSB; Gonzales et al., 2022). The present study used a quantitative, repeated measures design to investigate if participation in an SSB improved participants’ academic self-efficacy (ASE) confidence and stress, sense of belonging to the STEM fields generally, and sense of inclusion within their college. Participants (N = 156) were primarily 18 years of age (n = 147, 94.6%) and most identified as Black/African American (n = 105, 67.3%). Results indicated a significant change in participants’ ASE confidence and sense of belonging to STEM before and after completing SSB. Possible explanations of nonsignificant ASE stress and sense of inclusion findings and implications to inform college counselors’ praxis are also discussed.