Advisement and Scholarship Promoting Inquiry-based Research Experiences in STEM (ASPIRES)
A comprehensive, strategic project to increase the number of students graduating with bachelor's degrees in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is being implemented by (1) increasing the retention rate of students in STEM disciplines; and (2) decreasing grades of D, F or Withdrew rates in introductory science and mathematics courses for STEM majors. The plan (entitled Advisement and Scholarship Promoting Inquiry-based Research Experiences in STEM, ASPIRES) affects students from their freshman through their senior year. It includes introduction of inquiry-based active learning in introductory and follow-on courses, formation of student learning communities, intense advisement both through a newly established Student Advising Center and one on one experiences with faculty, supplemental instruction to promote student achievement, promotion and implementation of undergraduate research opportunities for freshmen, and faculty professional development to support the changes faculty are introducing. These initiatives are directly impacting over 650 incoming first-year STEM students for each year of ASPIRES and are resulting in an additional 140 STEM graduates per year. Intellectual Merit: ASPIRES is producing a model for increasing retention in STEM fields and decreasing failure and drop out rates in introductory science and math courses. It is engaging a diverse project team of faculty, administrators, and advisors. Broader Impact: A large proportion of the students affected are from underrepresented minority groups and the underserved rural population in Georgia, significantly contributing to the development of a more diverse STEM workforce. Specific strategies employed to reach out to and encourage the underrepresented student population include synergistic interactions between the newly established Student Advising Center and the existing Minority Advising Program and a plan to proactively target these students when recruiting for undergraduate research participation positions.