STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Breakout Session I -08 Assessing your STEP project: an Approach to Disentangling the Effects of Interwoven Project Strategies

Presenters: Frankie Santos Laanan, Diane Rover -- Iowa State University; and team members from Des Moines Area Community College

Moderator: Bert Holmes, NSF 


Like many STEP projects, the ISU-DMACC project (called SEEC, for Student Enrollment and Engagement through Connections) has implemented various strategies to enhance recruitment and retention. For many reasons, project strategies may be interwoven with other activities. This makes it challenging to measure the effectiveness of particular strategies. Nonetheless the effect of specific project activities is important for sustaining and transferring results of the project. The session will present an approach to assessing the effect of a STEP project and give an example of the SEEC effect.

The session will highlight a methodological strategy to assess/evaluate pre-engineering experiences of transfer students at a research university.  Specifically, the objective is to understand the extent to which prior experiences at the community college relate to students' academic performance and retention in engineering.  The presenters will discuss the design of the assessment, data collection and analytic approach. Implications for research, policy, and practice will be addressed.

We will illustrate the design of the study and involve participants in aspects of development and analysis through small and large group discussion. Participants will also be guided in a short exercise related to measuring the effect of their own project.