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Building Capacity: Enhancing Undergraduate STEM Education by Improving Transfer Success

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Pamela Brown


Melanie Villatoro New York City College of Technology

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Melanie Villatoro is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology at City Tech. Prof. Villatoro holds a Bachelors of Engineering degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and a Masters of Science degree in Geotechnical Engineering from Columbia University. She is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of New York. Prof. Villatoro is passionate about student retention and performance, as well as STEM Outreach in K-12.

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Elizabeth Milonas New York City College of Technology

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Elizabeth Milonas is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Computer Systems Technology at New York City College of Technology - City University of New York (CUNY). She teaches various topics related to data science and relational and non-relation database technologies. Her research focuses on organization techniques used in big data, ethics in data science curriculum, and evaluation of data science programs/curricula. She has a Ph.D. in Information Systems from Long Island University, an MS in Information Systems from NYU, and a BS in Computer Science from Fordham University.

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Benito Mendoza New York City College of Technology

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Hon Jie Teo New York City College of Technology

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Mohammad Razani New York City College of Technology


Diana Samaroo

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Diana Samaroo is a Professor in the Chemistry Department at NYC College of Technology in Brooklyn, New York. She has experience in curricular and program development, as well as administration as the Chairperson of the Chemistry Department for numerous years. She has mentored undergraduates under the support of Emerging and Honors Scholars program, CUNY Service Corps, Louis-Stokes for Alliance Minority Participation (LS-AMP) and the Black Male Initiative programs. She serves as co-PI on several federal grants, which include NSF S-STEM and NSF HSI-IUSE grants. With a doctoral degree in Biochemistry, Dr. Samaroo’s research interests include drug discovery, therapeutics and nanomaterials.

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A combination of strategies was implemented to reduce barriers to transfer from associate to baccalaureate programs, and baccalaureate degree completion. These strategies include creation of the STEM Transfer Collaborative (STC). an adaption of the CUNY Pathways articulation initiative. Components of the STC include articulation agreements, shared professional development to align pedagogy and curriculum, outreach and collaboration by both the sending and receiving college faculty to begin transfer preparation and support before transfer occurs, and regular updates to community college faculty on the success of their transfer students. The second strategy employed is Momentum to the Baccalaureate (MB), an adaption of the CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). MB provides support for junior and senior-level transfer students who are either community colleges associate degree graduates (external transfer) or associate degree graduates who transferred to bachelor’s programs at the same comprehensive college they earned their associate degree at, which has a 2+2 degree structure (internal transfer). Components of MB include personalized mentoring, advisement, and monthly stipends to students who maintain full-time enrollment and good academic standing. Participating majors include computer engineering technology, computer systems technology, construction management and civil engineering technology, electrical engineering technology, and applied chemistry. Propensity matching was used to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies.

Participating campuses are part of the City University of New York (CUNY), and include six community colleges (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Guttman Community College, Hostos Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and LaGuardia Community College), five of which are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and New York City College of Technology (City Tech), also an HSI, which offers associate and bachelor’s programs (2+2 structure).

Our first cohort of 40 students started upper-level studies in fall 2019, and has completed 2 years (four semesters) of post-associate degree study. The second cohort of 40 students, started in fall 2020, and has completed one year (two semesters) of post-associate degree study.

Cohort 1 students receiving MB, supports had a significantly higher graduation rate after two years than the college average. Additionally, for cohort 1, the STC seems to have reduced “transfer shock,” the typical drop in GPA the first semester after transfer. There was no statistical difference in GPA, credits completed and semester-to-semester persistence of internal and external transfers in the MB program. Cohort 1 external transfer students who received support though MB also had a statistically significant improvement in their semester GPAs for their first 3 semesters at City Tech compared to matched students who were not provided support in the junior and senior years. There was no statistically significant difference by the 4th semester.

Cohort 2 internal transfers receiving MB supports in their junior year had a statistically significant improvement in credits earned and persistence compared to a matched cohort without MB supports. There was no statistically significant improvement of external transfers compared to a matched cohort, who did not receive MB supports The inability of external transfer students to come to campus due to the pandemic, may have negated the sense of community and belonging that MB was intended to create.

Overall, these preliminary results suggest that targeted pre-transfer and post-transfer supports improve transfer student outcomes.

This project (NSF grant #1832457) was funded through the NSF Division of Education, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program.

Brown, P., & Villatoro, M., & Milonas, E., & Mendoza, B., & Teo, H. J., & Razani, M., & Samaroo, D. (2022, August), Building Capacity: Enhancing Undergraduate STEM Education by Improving Transfer Success Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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