STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Mathematics as a FirstSTEP to Success in STEM

Mathematics as a FirstSTEP to Success in STEM (FirstSTEP) (DUE-0969571) Tom Cheatham, Ginger Rowell, Don Nelson, Chris Stevens, Elaine Tenpenny Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN

The Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Type I-B FirstSTEP program focuses on retention of freshman and sophomore STEM majors who are underprepared in mathematics. Students without the background knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a college STEM major enter college with a strike against them. Each year, FirstSTEP recruits a cohort of up to 50 STEM majors whose math ACT is between 19 and 23, inclusively, and provides a set of experiences to help prepare them for success in STEM. Project activities are focused on mathematics preparation as well as life and college skills. In the summer before they begin their freshman year, the cohort spends two weeks in a summer math bridge program at MTSU that assesses their deficiencies in mathematics and provides individualized learning plans. Believing that providing context for learning is important, students also learn how mathematics is used in their disciplines. Students enroll in a one-credit pass/fall seminar during their freshman and sophomore academic years to facilitate communication, help them stay on track in mathematics, and provide college and life skills. In the summer before their sophomore year, we engage the students in in-depth, pre-research team activities so they will experience intense study in a STEM area.

Lead Author

Poster Information

  • ID: BP-1-01
  • Disciplinary Focus: Science