The Idaho Science Talent Expansion Program
This project is increasing STEM retention and graduation rates by targeting first-year STEM students and the STEM faculty who teach those students. Mathematics assessment and learning are integrated with new-student orientation, and STEM faculty educational training is being linked with STEM freshman learning communities and with new student orientation. The project is expanding and incorporating a dimensional analysis curriculum, which has been successful in an engineering learning community, to a precalculus STEM learning community. This curriculum enhancement is helping to effectively prepare students for chemistry and physics courses. Based on exceptional retention results, the use of engineering research internships for first-year students is being expanded to other STEM disciplines. The Summer Adventure STEM Orientation program is improving retention with students at-risk for not completing a STEM degree, including those who are underprepared in math, those with financial need, Hispanic students, women, and students with low self-efficacy. The activities and assessments are providing scholarly findings about the impact of first-year programs for at-risk populations. This project is impacting at least 1300 incoming STEM majors over the five-year grant period. The expectation is that the retention rate of first-year STEM students will increase from 57% to 70%, and STEM undergraduate degrees will increase by 40 additional STEM graduates annually. Internal and External Advisory Boards are helping to guide the project and to disseminate results. Curriculum enhancement resources developed by this project are being distributing via their website. Project results and lessons learned are being shared through presentations and publications. This project is also developing close connections with and providing outreach activities for a newly formed regional community college, College of Western Idaho.