RU-HWC Partnership for STEM Education
Harold Washington College (HWC) and Roosevelt University (RU) are joining in a partnership to significantly and sustainably increase the number of students matriculating in and successfully completing STEM degrees at the respective institutions. Specific numeric goals are (i) to increase the number of HWC students completing STEM associates degrees or transferring to STEM baccalaureate programs by 10%, (ii) to increase enrollment in RU baccalaureate STEM majors by 30%, and (iii) to increase the number of RU baccalaureate degrees awarded in STEM majors by 20%. The project is using the following components to reach these numeric goals. I. Retention. Both HWC and RU are focusing on increasing retention of STEM students through curricular enhancements in core courses taken by first- and second-year STEM majors, and through enhanced student support services. Curricular improvements include widespread adoption of active learning pedagogies, civic engagement themes, and class-based research experiences by participating STEM faculty at both institutions. Student support includes peer tutoring and supplemental instruction in critical STEM courses. Additionally, HWC provides STEM students with tailored basic skills courses and science methods courses appropriate to that institution. II. Research. RU faculty are providing undergraduate research opportunities to first- and second-year science STEM students from both institutions. Research activities include student stipends, a research methods seminar, and an annual joint HWC-RU student-faculty research forum. III. Student Scholarships. Both HWC and RU have high percentages of part time students who simultaneously work and attend school. At both institutions, a limited number of scholarships are being offered to declared STEM majors in order to assist students in maintaining full time STEM study. IV. Faculty development. Curricular alignment and pedagogical improvements at both HWC and RU are being reinforced through annual joint RU-HWC faculty professional development seminars. Additionally, HWC faculty are offered expanded opportunities for research and professional development. A comprehensive evaluation plan informs and evaluates the above efforts. Annual evaluations provide a continuous monitoring of benchmarks and allow for any needed mid-course adjustments in recruitment and instructional strategies. The summative evaluation draws from data collected throughout the project period and assesses the overall success of the project and the relative contributions of the various project components to project goals. Results are disseminated through local, regional and national meetings in STEM and STEM education disciplines, publication in STEM education journals and distribution as SENCER model courses. Intellectual merit. First, the proposed curricular enhancements contribute to scholarship of teaching and learning in STEM disciplines. Specifically, evaluation of curricular components determine whether the civic engagement approach sponsored by the NSF-supported SENCER initiative is adaptable for use with STEM majors. Second, the evaluation plan addresses fundamental research questions on factors influencing student success in STEM disciplines, and the effectiveness of various strategies on STEM enrollments, retention and graduation. Broader Impacts. Because HWC and RU enroll high percentages of minorities (73% HWC; 37% RU) and women (60% HWC; 68% RU), the proposed activities broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM disciplines. The RU-HWC partnership enhances infrastructure for STEM education and builds a regional community of STEM education practitioners. A percentage of RU STEM majors seek secondary education certificates, and thus the activities increase the number of STEM secondary education students and model active learning and civic engagement pedagogies to this community of students. The activities therefore strengthen secondary STEM education in metropolitan Chicago.