Increasing Enrollment Using a Complementary Learning Program
Interdisciplinary and collaborative training in the applied biosciences is increasing enrollment, retention, and graduation in STEM fields by targeted outreach and recruitment of students for bioinformatics, biotechnology, and biochemistry. Scholarship support is being provided for traditionally underrepresented students and a Complementary Learning Program (CLP) is providing academic support for bioscience and other STEM majors. The impact of the project is being assessed by comparing retention and graduation rates for CLP participants and non-participants and tracking STEM enrollment and retention rates among minority students. The merits of the project include the use of group learning environments and exposure to scientific applications in biotechnology and bioinformatics to increase student learning outcomes and persistence in STEM majors. This project is adapting best practices in undergraduate education, including the concepts of Supplemental Instruction and the model of Learning Organizations by Senge, and implementing them within an interdisciplinary curriculum. This project is having a broad impact by (1) increasing the number of students graduating in STEM, particularly in bioinformatics, biotechnology, and biochemistry; (2) increasing awareness of STEM research and employment opportunities; (3) increasing awareness of bioinformatics and biotechnology among high school students; and (4) expanding STEM enrollment for underrepresented populations. The dissemination plan includes sharing project results in presentations at scientific meetings and education conferences, preparing manuscripts for submission to scientific and educational journals, and submitting materials for inclusion in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL).