Title

The Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP) at CWU: A Model for Improving Recruitment and Retention of College Students in STEM

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

The Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP) at CWU (supported by the National Science Foundation and COTS) continues to work toward increasing the number of students obtaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. STEP 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 helping students prepare for rigorous STEM classes by engaging them in inquiry-based courses that enhance critical-thinking skills and by 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 and teaching experiences during the sophomore year. STEP transfer students take two classes that prepare them for faculty-mentored research and teaching experiences. STEP has served more than 415 students from 2003/04-2012/13. Statistical measures show 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

21

Faculty Mentor(s)

Wendy Bohrson

Additional Mentoring Department

Geological Sciences

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May 16th, 11:30 AM May 16th, 2:00 PM

The Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP) at CWU: A Model for Improving Recruitment and Retention of College Students in STEM

SURC Ballroom C/D

The Science Talent Expansion Program (STEP) at CWU (supported by the National Science Foundation and COTS) continues to work toward increasing the number of students obtaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. STEP 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 helping students prepare for rigorous STEM classes by engaging them in inquiry-based courses that enhance critical-thinking skills and by 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 and teaching experiences during the sophomore year. STEP transfer students take two classes that prepare them for faculty-mentored research and teaching experiences. STEP has served more than 415 students from 2003/04-2012/13. Statistical measures show 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.