MaS: Providing MORE to Increase STEM Majors and Create Transfer Opportunities
The Math and Science (MaS) Program is increasing the number of minority and female students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and transferring to four-year institutions. The program is modeled on successful summer bridge and first-year experience programs. It is extending curriculum improvements and support programs to an innovative second- and third-year experience. A center is being established at the college that focuses on increasing student success in STEM fields through outreach, innovative instruction, staff development, tutoring/mentoring, internships, and career advisement. Key components of MaS are: (a) aggressive recruitment at local high schools; (b) rigorous curriculum that emphasizes interdisciplinary, active and collaborative teaching and learning (including an intensive, math-only sequence and a capstone experience); (c) instructional technology (Interactive Multi-Media Exercises) that follows the hypothetical-deductive learning model of scientific inquiry; (d) extensive tutoring and mentoring, including in-class instructional aides and out-of-class tutors, peer mentors, and STEM faculty mentors to serve as role models and academic advisors; (e) off-campus, experiential learning, including field work, summer internships and job shadowing at nearby universities and the Jet Propulsion Lab; (f) proactive counseling, including individual educational plans, career aptitude tests, and transfer seminars; (g) faculty development to ensure integration of content in science, math, and English courses; and (h) evaluation that utilizes a longitudinal, quantitative, comparative, quasi-experimental design and rigorous qualitative research methods. Proximity to institutions such as the California Institute of Technology, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California allows MaS students and faculty to collaborate on a variety of projects, including job shadowing, summer research internships, and transfer advisement to reinforce connections between theory and practice and to smooth the transition from the two-year college to four-year institutions. Intellectual Merit: The project is increasing 1) student interest in STEM fields as majors and future professionals and 2) the supply and success rates of future STEM workers, especially among individuals from underrepresented groups. The structure contributes to the growing body of research on learning communities and summer bridge/first-year experience models. Broader Impacts: The project addresses the specific needs of women and underrepresented minorities interested in STEM fields by creating bridges from high school to two-year college and from two-year college to four-year universities, a path that an increasing number of students across the country are following.