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Board 14: Examining First-Year Chemistry Outcomes of Underprepared STEM Students Who Completed a STEM Summer Academic Bridge Program

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29939

Download Count

27

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Paper Authors

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Brittany Bradford Rice University

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Brittany Bradford is a doctoral student in industrial and organizational psychology at Rice University, working with Dr. Margaret Beier. She received her bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University. Her research interests include education, learning, and motivation.

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Margaret E. Beier Rice University

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Margaret Beier is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Rice University in Houston, TX. She received her B.A. from Colby College, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Margaret’s research examines the predictors of performance in educational and occupational settings. In particular, she is interested in the effects of examining gender, age, ability, personality, motivation, and self-regulation on a range of outcomes. She is a member of the American Educational Research Association and a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologists.

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Ann Saterbak Duke University

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Ann Saterbak is Professor of the Practice in the Biomedical Department and Director of First-Year Engineering at Duke University. Saterbak is the lead author of the textbook, Bioengineering Fundamentals. Saterbak’s outstanding teaching was recognized through university-wide and departmental teaching awards. In 2013, Saterbak received the ASEE Biomedical Engineering Division Theo C. Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award. For her contribution to education within biomedical engineering, she was elected Fellow in the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Society of Engineering Education.

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Megan McSpedon Rice University

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Megan McSpedon is the Associate Director of the Rice Emerging Scholars Program. She has been with the program since it was founded in 2012. Megan received a B.A. in English from Rice University.

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Michael Wolf Rice University

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Michael Wolf is Professor of Mathematics at Rice University as well as Faculty Director of the Rice Emerging Scholars Program, an initiative he co-founded in 2012. The Rice Emerging Scholars program is a comprehensive 2-4 year program that begins the summer before matriculation for a group of matriculating Rice students whose preparation for STEM is weaker than those of their peers.

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Kristi Kincaid Rice University

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Department of Chemistry

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Abstract

This NSF S-STEM Grantee poster examines the results of a selective university's summer science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) bridge program on participants' introductory chemistry grades in a quasi-experimental design that compared performance of participants in the bridge program, a control group with similar preparation as bridge program participants, and the remaining students in the class. The outcome of interest was first-semester chemistry exam performance. The researchers also examined performance on exam items that directly tested concepts taught in the summer bridge program.

The bridge program was designed to prepare matriculating students for core STEM coursework through six weeks of intensive instruction in math, physics, and chemistry. Students are selected for participation in the bridge program based on their SAT scores, AP credits, and scores on a faculty-developed diagnostic exam. Control group participants were also students in the natural science and engineering divisions who qualified for the bridge program but who could not participate for various reasons.

The research hypotheses were that 1) bridge program participants would outscore the control group on bridge-taught chemistry exam questions and 2) bridge program participants would also outscore the control group on chemistry questions not taught in the bridge program, due to acquiring a stronger foundation of chemistry overall. The researchers explored but did not hypothesize whether program participants would outperform the rest of the class on either item type.

An analysis of chemistry grades, which consisted of three exams and a final, was conducted. Exam topics were divided roughly evenly between questions covering content taught in the bridge program and content not covered. A t-test showed significant differences between the experimental and control groups on exam questions directly taught in the bridge program, such that bridge participants outscored the control group by a large margin (t(111) = 4.42, p < .001, d = .84), supporting Hypothesis 1. Further, there was no significant difference between the experimental group and the remaining students' scores on these questions (t(1018) = 1.30, p = .20). For the introductory chemistry exam questions that covered content not taught during the program, there was no significant difference between the experimental group and the control group's exam scores (t(111) = 0.79, p = .43), providing no support for Hypothesis 2. Furthermore, a planned contrast showed that both groups lagged the rest of the class's performance on these questions (F(1,1043) = 11.62, p = .001, ηp²= .011).

These findings provide insight into the effectiveness of teaching STEM content in bridge programs. The fact that participants successfully retain and apply the content taught during the summer program is promising, especially given that bridge participants' scores on program-taught content were actually brought to a level equal to the rest of the students in the class (who were theoretically better prepared for college coursework). Further research is needed into how to effectively teach participants the skills to use the bridge program content as a foundation for learning other STEM topics and ultimately successfully graduating as a STEM major.

Bradford, B., & Beier, M. E., & Saterbak, A., & McSpedon, M., & Wolf, M., & Kincaid, K. (2018, June), Board 14: Examining First-Year Chemistry Outcomes of Underprepared STEM Students Who Completed a STEM Summer Academic Bridge Program Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29939

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