STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Student Support Models Tailored by Departments to Discipline Needs

Allow departments to design their own student support, get more faculty buy-in, get more success in the long term.

STudent Retention Enhancement Across Mathematics and the Sciences (STREAMS) at Bridgewater State University (DUE 0969109) implements best practice approaches to improve student retention in biology, chemistry, computer science, geological sciences, mathematics and physics. Course re-design and the addition of “Structured Learning Assistance” supporting students in gateway, introductory courses are central components to increase student retention. Individual departments at Bridgewater State University designed their own student supports, creating a diverse range of PLTL, Supplemental Instruction, Studio, and Structured Learning environments that emphasize group work led by a senior undergraduate PAL and inquiry in different ways, tailored to department personalities, and perceived student need. The broad success in reducing D, F, & W grades and increasing A & B grades in these courses, and the sustainability of these practices are directly tied to the personal investment of the wide range of departmental faculty involved in the added supports. STREAMS is completing its third year in April 2013.

The full range of grant activities include (1) a three-week, residential summer bridge program focusing on early undergraduate research (16 participants per year); (2) course development grants and faculty development programming that promote group, inquiry-based pedagogy in introductory STEM courses; (3) peer-led, group and inquiry-oriented Structured Learning Assistance (SLA) in nearly all introductory courses (about 750 students per year); (4) improved transfer advising and recruitment through partnerships with two local community colleges; (5) a science and math residential learning community (about 40 students per year); and (6) a networking program for new native or transfer STEM majors.

The weighted average of grant years 1 and 2 freshmen to sophomore STEM retention stands at 61%, and the grant year 2 sophomore to junior STEM retention was 67%. These numbers are up from 57% and 62% (found by averaging the 5 years prior to the grant). We see substantial increases in the number of students adding STEM majors at Bridgewater between freshmen and sophomore years and again between sophomore and junior years. In both grant years 1 and 2, there were 109 more sophomore STEM majors than retained freshmen, up from 86 in the four years prior to the grant. Similarly, we are seeing about 100 more juniors than retained sophomores since the grant began, up from an average near 72.

These increases reflect added declaration of STEM majors from native BSU students and a strong increase in the number of transfer students. Overall transfer numbers in the fall semester rose from 79 the year before the grant to 113 this past fall. BSU’s two community college partners on STREAMS (Massasoit Community College and Cape Cod Community College – CCCC) have seen fall semester STEM transfers to BSU rise from 30 students the year prior to the grant to 51 students this fall.

Lead Author

  • Thomas Kling


Name Organization
Jenna Mendell Bridgewater State University
Stephen Waratuke Bridgewater State University

Institution Information

  • Name: Bridgewater State College
  • State: MA

Poster Information

  • ID: CI-010
  • Disciplinary Focus: All STEM
  • Award Number: 0969109
  • Project Year 3