Title

The Science Talent Expanion Program (STEP) at CWU: A Model for Improving Recruiting and Retention of College Students

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom A

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

The Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP) at CWU (supported by the National Science Foundation and COTS) works to increase the number of students obtaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. The program focuses on recruiting and retaining traditionally underrepresented students in STEM disciplines by providing academic, social, and financial support. Recruiting of STEP students is accomplished through collaboration between STEP and Admissions. Retention efforts focus on preparing students for rigorous STEM classes by engaging them in inquiry-based classes that enhance critical-thinking skills (e.g., writing research proposals) and allowing them to execute student-designed research projects. Freshmen engage in the STEP Freshman Science Seminar Series, three classes that explore interdisciplinary topics. Students propose and conduct experiments that test energy-related hypotheses as well as write proposals to engage in faculty-mentored research, teaching, or recruiting experiences during the sophomore year. STEP transfer students take two classes that prepare them for faculty-mentored research experiences. STEP has served 370+ students from 2003-2011. Statistical measures demonstrate that STEP is succeeding in improving retention and academic performance of STEM majors. Compared to the STEM control group, STEP students declare STEM majors to a greater extent and have higher GPAs. Feedback from students suggests that the key aspects of STEP that enhance student success include participation in the STEP Living Learning Community (LLC), close professional ties between students and faculty/staff, and financial support. The CWU STEP Program can be used as a model for non-STEM disciplines to improve recruiting and retention of students, particularly those who are underrepresented.

Poster Number

7

Faculty Mentor(s)

Wendy Bohrson

Additional Mentoring Department

Geological Sciences

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May 17th, 11:15 AM May 17th, 1:44 PM

The Science Talent Expanion Program (STEP) at CWU: A Model for Improving Recruiting and Retention of College Students

SURC Ballroom A

The Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP) at CWU (supported by the National Science Foundation and COTS) works to increase the number of students obtaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. The program focuses on recruiting and retaining traditionally underrepresented students in STEM disciplines by providing academic, social, and financial support. Recruiting of STEP students is accomplished through collaboration between STEP and Admissions. Retention efforts focus on preparing students for rigorous STEM classes by engaging them in inquiry-based classes that enhance critical-thinking skills (e.g., writing research proposals) and allowing them to execute student-designed research projects. Freshmen engage in the STEP Freshman Science Seminar Series, three classes that explore interdisciplinary topics. Students propose and conduct experiments that test energy-related hypotheses as well as write proposals to engage in faculty-mentored research, teaching, or recruiting experiences during the sophomore year. STEP transfer students take two classes that prepare them for faculty-mentored research experiences. STEP has served 370+ students from 2003-2011. Statistical measures demonstrate that STEP is succeeding in improving retention and academic performance of STEM majors. Compared to the STEM control group, STEP students declare STEM majors to a greater extent and have higher GPAs. Feedback from students suggests that the key aspects of STEP that enhance student success include participation in the STEP Living Learning Community (LLC), close professional ties between students and faculty/staff, and financial support. The CWU STEP Program can be used as a model for non-STEM disciplines to improve recruiting and retention of students, particularly those who are underrepresented.