June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
Creating Opportunities for Students in Science (COMPASS) Scholarship Program at UNC Pembroke (UNCP) – an S-STEM National Science Foundation award – was designed to improve STEM retention at UNC Pembroke and to contribute to the national need for more STEM professionals from diverse backgrounds. At UNCP, some challenges to recruitment and retention in STEM disciplines that have been cited by students include: poor preparation, being intimidated by difficult material, lack of understanding of career opportunities in STEM, and financial need. The COMPASS program is contributing to alleviate barriers and improve STEM experiences for talented Biology, Biotechnology, Environmental Science, and Chemistry undergraduates with demonstrated financial need, via a combination of financial support, research experiences, internships, professional development, tutoring, and mentoring. These four majors make up most of the STEM undergraduates (about 83%) at UNCP. Therefore, concentrating in these disciplines makes the program more cohesive, with virtually all activities being of interest to all students. It is also a more effective way for Biology and Chemistry faculty to mentor the students.
The COMPASS program is currently funding two cohorts of nine students and a third of 10 students. Financial support is provided from sophomore year through graduation. The rationale for this choice is that attrition is most acute from freshman to sophomore year (on average 70% of UNCP STEM freshmen return as sophomores). Providing this incentive serves as a powerful motivation and becomes a retention tool. The model of three cohorts spaced one year apart lends itself to peer mentoring of students in each entering cohort by those in the previous cohort(s). Demographically, 75% of COMPASS scholars are from underrepresented minorities (URM) versus a college-wide rate of 54%. The highest percentage is Native American (35.8 % vs. 17%), followed by African American (28.5 % vs. 32%), Hispanic (7% vs. 1.5%), and Pacific Islander (3.5% vs. 2%). Scholars reported strong benefits from engaging in program activities. They specifically valued the motivation to keep up their work and grades in order to stay in target for graduation, professional development provided by site visits to academic and industry settings, the financial support that the scholarship provides, and emotional support from mentors and the cohort system, which has become more cohesive after the addition of a student lounge where scholars come together to study and socialize. Some challenges remain and formative assessments based on a strong external review have been used to improve program activities on a year-to-year basis. The implementation and management of the first two and half years of the program will be presented.
Santisteban, M. S., & Thomley, J. E., & Bullard-Dillard, R. (2017, June), Board # 131 : S-STEM Scholarship Program at UNC Pembroke: a COMPASS for Science Majors Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27733
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