STEP - Center for Achievement, Retention and Student Success
The project is a comprehensive program, under the Center for Achievement, Retention and Student Success (CARSS), that facilitates the successful transition and integration of incoming high school graduates and community college transfers. It involves collaborations between the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, and leverages existing support mechanisms. Project goals include a 40% to 50% increase in the 4-year graduation rates of a cohort of freshman with declared STEM majors, a 40% to 50% increase in the 2-3 year graduation rates of transfer students entering the University in their junior year, and a 50% increase in the number of STEM graduates from historically underserved populations. Efforts to sustain CARSS through institutional commitments include the dedication of 1500 sq. ft. of space for CARSS advising and mentoring services for students in STEM fields; the continuation of the CARSS Coordinator Staff line; continued funding support for the Peer Tutors and Mentors at the conclusion of the funding period; and the continued provision of in-kind services such as the use of Academic Support Services personnel and resources after the funding period has ended. The program is offering tutoring and mentoring services for all STEM majors, particularly for students working through challenging gateway courses. The program includes career counseling, faculty mentoring, a recruitment component that involves consultation with student families, and a variety of financial incentives. The program also is designed to recruit students from historically underserved populations into STEM majors. The evaluation effort, led by an expert within the University, is using multi-phased, mixed methodology to monitor and improve the quality of the Center's activities and to measure the impact of the initiatives on students and faculty. Broader impacts include a special focus on historically underserved populations, enhancement of the University's infrastructure, and the dissemination of their best practices.