Recruiting and Retaining the Next Generation of STEM Professionals
This project is increasing the total number of students obtaining science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees at Central Washington University (CWU) and the number of traditionally underrepresented students in STEM undergraduate majors. It is modeled after the Meyerhoff Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, a program that has generated significant improvements in recruitment, retention, and career placement for African-American students. Program features include: (1) recruiting a pool of high-achieving students from traditionally underrepresented minority (URM)-serving high schools and community colleges; (2) providing merit-based financial support; (3) establishing an interdisciplinary freshman program with ample opportunities for academic and social integration;(4) enhancing knowledge and skill development through programs that involve students in mentoring, teaching and research; and (5) supporting and motivating students by emphasizing outstanding achievement, involving parents, and funding student travel to conferences. The program is also building on a STEP Pilot Program, integrating existing successful efforts such as interdisciplinary and inquiry-based Freshman Year Science Seminar Series, Sophomore Independent Research Experiences and Natural Sciences Living-Learning Community with new features such as: (1) contracting an outreach consultant to develop an effective recruiting plan for URMs; (2) establishing comprehensive scholarships; (3) paying continuing STEP students in good standing to recruit, mentor, and provide academic support for STEP participants in gateway classes such as Math and Chemistry; (4) developing a Bridging Program for transfer students to help them make the transition from community college to CWU; and (6) creating a STEP Strategic Planning Committee, which will link CWU STEP faculty and staff to students, their families, and community college and high school faculty. Intellectual merit: The proposed project will explore the transferability of the Meyerhoff Model to a different institution and a notably different target group of students. Broader impacts: Through special efforts to recruit Native American and Hispanic students the program is doubling the number of students from groups currently underrepresented in STEM disciplines. The program is also increasing STEM majors retention by a factor of two.