June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Two Year College Division
15.704.1 - 15.704.19
Improving the Participation and Retention of Minority Students in Science and Engineering Through Summer Enrichment Programs
Although many California Community College students enter college with high levels of interest in science and engineering, their levels of preparation for college-level work, especially in math and engineering, are so low that the majority of them drop out or change majors even before taking transfer-level courses. In 2008, Cañada College, a Hispanic-Serving community college in Redwood City, CA, was awarded a Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) grant by the US Department of Education to develop and implement a project that aims to maximize the likelihood of success among underrepresented and educationally disadvantaged students interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields. The project, entitled Student On-ramp Leading to Engineering and Sciences (SOLES), incorporates strategies that address challenges and barriers to recruitment, retention and success of minority students. Among the strategies developed for this project are two summer programs that were implemented for the first time in summer 2009. The Summer Math Jam is a two-week intensive mathematics program designed to improve student preparation for college-level math courses. The Summer Engineering Institute is a two-week residential summer camp that offers participating students the opportunity to gain insight into the engineering academic program through a combination of lectures, hands- on laboratory activities, workshops and projects with engineering professionals. Preliminary results indicate success of both programs. Math Jam participants show improvement in the Math Placement test. Almost all participants scored higher in the placement test compared to their pre- program scores. For sixty four percent of them, the improvement in their scores was high enough to place them to at least the next higher math class. Engineering Institute participants showed improved understanding of the engineering profession and the engineering educational system. Participants from both programs also expressed positive overall attitude and opinions of the program objectives, content, activities and implementation.
Community colleges serve as the gateway to higher education for large numbers of students in the U.S., especially minority and low-income students. Yet for many students, the community college gateway does not lead to success. Only one in four students wanting to transfer or earn a degree/certificate did so within six years, according to a recent study of California community colleges1. African American and Hispanic students have even lower rates of completion. According to the study, only 15% of African American students and 18% of Latino students completed a degree or certificate within six years, compared to 27% of Caucasian students, and 33% of Asian students.
For Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, lower success and retention rates for minority students are observed at both community college and university levels
Enriquez, A. (2010, June), Improving The Participation And Retention Of Minority Students In Science And Engineering Through Summer Enrichment Programs Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15657
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