S3: STEPping up STEM at Sonoma State University
Sonoma State University (SSU) will improve the long-term retention and graduation rates of our Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) majors by providing them with an inquiry-based educational experience based on the multi-disciplinary theme of sustainability, improving STEM student support services, and providing additional opportunities for mentored research. The STEPping up STEM at SSU (S3) program consists of three major elements:
- Core Curriculum Development: Development of a new STEM-oriented First Year Experience (FYE) to immediately immerse incoming students into “scientific inquiry” while developing a personal connection to the institution and community. STEM-FYE will fit within the framework of existing general education core courses, immersing students in learning communities that focus on quantitative skills, biological principles and the process of science, within the overarching topical curricular theme of environmental sustainability.
- Improving Support for STEM Students: Creation of a coherent and expanded recruitment and support structure to increase the diversity of SSU’s STEM population. Advising pathways for potential STEM majors will be improved and existing mentoring, research and service-learning opportunities for STEM students available through a variety of campus programs will be integrated.
- Expanding the “MESA model”: Bringing MESA’s best practices to the larger population of STEM majors, including creation of new Academic Workshop courses for gateway classes in Chemistry and Physics, additional peer and professional mentoring for STEM-student learning communities, and additional undergraduate research opportunities for under-represented students in the physical science and technical fields.
Individual student degree progress will be tracked, and external evaluators from WestEd will be utilized to quantify the success in achieving the learning outcomes defined for the STEM-FYE course and Academic Workshops, as well as meeting benchmarks for improving the retention and graduation rate of STEM students.