STEM Scholars Program: Developing Tomorrow's Leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
This National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) project at St. John's University in Queens, New York will support 70 academically talented, low-income students over a 5-year period to attain bachelor's degrees in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics, to facilitate entry into the STEM workforce or advanced degree programs upon graduation. In addition to scholarships, students will receive support in the form of study skills workshops, tutoring, seminars, career-planning workshops, and peer mentoring by faculty. The project will also help to increase retention among all first-year science and mathematics students by establishing a group of faculty who will introduce evidence-based high-impact education practices in introductory-level courses. Scholarships and support for low-income and academically talented students, who may not otherwise be able to obtain STEM degrees, will help to produce a well-trained workforce that will contribute to the economic well being of the nation.
The project combines a variety of approaches for improving STEM degree completion. A faculty working group called the Science Consortium will be created. These faculty expect to increase retention by improving introductory courses in degrees in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Project faculty will be trained in evidence-based, effective instruction and high-impact education practices and will implement these in introductory-level courses. The core faculty team will serve as campus leaders training other members of the faculty and working together to fully transform the introductory-level science and mathematics curricula. The project will utilize a sophomore seminar as a means to develop a scholarly community between commuter and resident student populations and to provide low-income academically talent commuting students access to high impact practices known to improve retention including collaborative assignments and projects, research with faculty, and service learning opportunities. In this sophomore seminar entitled "Solving the Big Problem," scholars will work in groups and choose their own problem to address under the guidance of faculty facilitators. Scholars will be encouraged to choose problems impacting the greater New York City area that can be analyzed using a multidisciplinary STEM approach. The seminar will form the basis around which a cohort of scholars will be established. The project will study how this seminar approach improves retention and helps low-income students, many of which are non-residential commuting, give these students a community build around curricular, and co-curricular activities. The study will use a pre-post analysis of matched comparison groups to determine program effectiveness. The findings from the program will be disseminated widely to the STEM education community.