STudent Retention Enhancement Across Mathematics and Sciences (STREAMS)
This project is implementing a common approach to improving student retention in biology, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, mathematics and physics in order to increase the average STEM major graduation rate from 120 to 160 graduates. Activities being introduced through this project include: common, inquiry-based approaches for all STEM introductory courses; structured learning assistance to gateway courses with pervasive high student failure rates; development of an electronic portfolio-based mentoring program emphasizing undergraduate research; establishment of a three week, residential summer bridge program; creation of a STEM residential learning community; and development of stronger connections with local community colleges through improved transfer orientation programming. These six interventions are designed to prepare and encourage students to take advantage of existing undergraduate research and internship opportunities later in their careers. They were chosen to overcome specific barriers to STEM persistence as determined by institutional research with the current student body. Participating community colleges are Cape Cod and Massasoit Community Colleges. Intellectual Merit: The underlying intellectual principle of this project is that a coherent set of institutional changes known to support the retention of three traditionally underserved populations (students of color, first generation college students, and low income students) will result in a substantial rise in the total number of BSC STEM graduates through all populations. These three traditionally underserved populations represent approximately 42% of the institution's students. With the exception of the summer bridge program designed to jumpstart a group of at risk students from the traditionally underserved population, all these interventions will be available to all STEM students. Students are being closely tracked via surveys and focus groups in order to determine the efficacy of various program components as concerns increasing persistence. These assessments are being used in real time to improve the delivery components. Broader Impact: This project allows for a study of best practices for STEM retention within traditionally underserved populations on college campuses, an underserved resource for possible STEM graduates, and therefore has the potential to assist the large number of public colleges and universities that struggle to serve these students well. Key personnel will present results of these studies at regional and national disciplinary meetings.