NSF 0622442, Increasing Numbers, Connections and Retention in Science and Engineering
NSF 0622442, PI – Pamela Lockwood, CO-PIs –Emily Hunt, Raymond Matlack, David Craig, West Texas A&M University, Step Phase I: Increasing Numbers, Connections, and Retention in Science and Engineering (INCRSE)
Increasing Numbers, Connections, and Retention in Science and Engineering (INCRSE) at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) is a type I Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program. This program focuses on increasing the quantity, quality, and diversity of all STEM majors at WTAMU through recruitment and retention strategies. INCRSE has utilized learning communities in first year mathematics, engineering, and science courses to improve success and retention of first year STEM majors. In this learning community model, two first year STEM courses are linked by enrollment, requiring all students to dual enroll in the two learning community courses. Mathematics and engineering learning communities use problem-based learning projects to integrate course objectives and promote student learning and engagement. Focus groups indicated linked courses helped students develop long-term study cohorts and helped establish connections between mathematics and engineering. The INCRSE goal of increasing the number of STEM majors by 25% over five years has been exceeded with a 50% increase in new STEM majors between fall 2005 and fall 2010; university enrollment increased by only 13.6% during this time. The number of female STEM majors has increase by 41.8% (294 to 417). This increase has been observed in all disciplines. From 2005 to 2010, Hispanic STEM majors increased by 125% (103 to 232), while University Hispanic undergraduate enrollment increased by 29%. This increase in STEM majors at WTAMU has been achieved in part through the development of relationships between INCRSE faculty and faculty at regional community colleges. Community College (CC) transfer STEM majors increased by 24% during the five years of INCRSE. The INCRSE model for community college outreach was adopted by the university as a whole in 2009. With the implementation of this model, the university has seen significant increases over the last year in CC transfers. Relationships between faculty at WTAMU and CCs have resulted in important achievements including: 1) establishing pre-engineering programs at two local CCs where faculty from WTAMU will TTVN an engineering course to CC campuses in the fall 2009; 2) students at CCs working on undergraduate research projects with faculty at WTAMU; 3) field trips from CCs to WTAMU; 4) sharing of laboratory equipment between WTAMU and CCs; 5) faculty development opportunities with faculty from WTAMU and CCs.
- Disciplinary Focus: Science