Student and Faculty Learning Communities to Increase Graduation Rates in STEM Disciplines
This project is developing support structures and learning communities for first-year students in STEM disciplines, and coupling these with professional development and support activities for faculty involved with introductory STEM courses to shift their focus from teaching to learning. The project builds on an earlier collaboration between faculty in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) and the College of Education (COE) that now also includes the College of Arts and Sciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. Particular features of the project include clustering of introductory courses in mathematics, chemistry, and writing; development of a First-Year STEM Seminar; and Drop-In Centers for group study and tutoring. The First-Year STEM Seminar includes career development; readings and discussions that present science and technology in historical, social, and cultural context; and an innovative outreach activity to middle school students through the design, construction, and presentation of STEM principles by the STEP undergraduate students. Components of the faculty learning community formation include reading and discussion, faculty development on alternative pedagogical strategies, and course coordination to improve the overall learning environment for the students.