June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Educational Research and Methods
14.203.1 - 14.203.8
An Interactive, Student-Driven Program to Facilitate Scholastic Achievement in Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
This paper describes experiences and lessons learned from a National Science Foundation- funded Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) scholarship program at Missouri University of Science and Technology. The principal conclusion is that it is imperative to the success of this type of program to provide a mechanism for frequently collecting feedback in order to prioritize and schedule activities to best meet the needs of participants.
The National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project “A Program to Facilitate Scholastic Achievement in Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics” at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) ran from August 15, 2004 through July 31, 2009. The goals of this program were to address: (1) the decline in the number of students pursuing degrees in mathematics, computer science, and engineering, and (2) the minimal rate of low-income students attending college and completing degrees. The approach taken was to offer scholarships to low-income, academically talented students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science, mathematics, or engineering, with the stipulation that the students would be required to participate in a specially designed scholastic achievement program called CSEM Scholars. It was hoped that this program would provide them with a mixture of motivational activities that were aimed at promoting personal, academic, and professional development, and would create a support community of students with shared experiences which was actively cultivated by holding interactive meetings in a relaxed environment.
Although we initially had planned to cover particular topics over a very specific timeline, our CSEM scholarship program ended up being student-driven to ensure maximal relevance of the topics. Buy-in of the students was achieved by having them propose and select the topics that they felt were important to their personal, academic, and professional success, and about which they had minimal previous knowledge. We also found that the students strongly preferred workshops wherein they interacted with each other, the presenters, and members of the local community through role-playing skits, small group discussions, and external service activities such as mentoring. In this paper we describe how our plans for this program evolved, the degree to which the desired outcomes were achieved, and the lessons that we learned.
According to recent U.S. Department of Labor Statistics , the demand for certain computer specialists is expected to grow for the 2006-2016 decade at a much faster rate than the average growth rate for all other occupations. Similarly, overall engineering employment is expected to grow over the same time period, with civil engineers seeing the largest employment increase . Accordingly, the demand for science and mathematics teachers (particularly at the pre-college
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