Effective Academic and Student Affairs Collaboration to Enhance Student Success in Engineering and Applied Sciences
In this project faculty and administrators in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) are teaming with student affairs professionals to create academic and student support programs that recognize the interwoven nature of how students' cognitive and affective domains develop. This effort builds on an earlier STEP Type 1A award that coupled the creation of learning communities for first-year students in STEM disciplines with professional development and support activities for faculty to improve their introductory STEM courses. Now, this STEP 1B project is targeting three student populations: first-time first-year CEAS students, returning sophomores, and community college transfer students, particularly those from populations under-represented in STEM such as women and under-represented ethnic minorities. As a result of the synergy between the academic and student affairs units the project expects to see a ten percent improvement in its retention and graduation rates. The project also includes a recruiting component that builds on the special relationship between the PI's institution and the community colleges in southwest Michigan to aggressively recruit transfer students and high school students to increase the number of under-represented engineering and applied sciences students to the national average. The intellectual merit of this project lies in current research on student development which asserts that growth in the affective and cognitive domains is intertwined, and it draws on best practices regarding academic and student affairs collaboration. In addition the project is identifying the cultural, philosophical, organizational, and programmatic characteristics of these two institutional units and seeks to increase the number of faculty and student affairs professionals who actively collaborate, with indicators of success for formative and summative assessment. Knowledge and practice generated by this element of the project in turn holds potential for having broader impact by serving as a model to advance collaboration between academic and student affairs offices at other institutions and in STEM fields in general. Furthermore, the PI's institution serves a student population with diverse backgrounds in academic preparation and with a significant population of community college transfer students that is representative of many state regional universities. As a result the project offers the opportunity to validate and then disseminate widely what is the effect of the project's retention programs on different student populations.