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Increasing Student Access, Retention, And Graduation Through An Integrated Stem Pathways Support Initiative For The Rio South Texas Region

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Developing Young MINDS in Engineering: Part I

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.730.1 - 14.730.11



Permanent URL

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Paper Authors

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Arturo Fuentes University of Texas, Pan American

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Robert Freeman University of Texas, Pan American

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Horacio Vasquez University of Texas, Pan American

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Cristina Villalobos University of Texas, Pan American

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Stephen Crown University of Texas, Pan American

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Miguel Gonzalez University of Texas, Pan American

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Olga Ramirez University of Texas, Pan American

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Increasing Student Access, Retention, and Graduation Through an Integrated STEM Pathways Support Initiative for the Rio South Texas Region


This paper describes in detail the ongoing activities of the integrated STEM pathways support initiative for the Rio South Texas Region. This initiative is a collaboration between The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and South Texas College (STC), a two year HSI, to facilitate student engagement and success in STEM areas. With a recently funded College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) grant from the Department of Education, both institutions are developing and supporting strategies that will facilitate the success of Hispanics and other low income students in STEM areas. The efforts supported by the initiative focus on four activities. The first activity enhances student services to foster success in Calculus I as it is known to be a roadblock for student success in STEM fields. The second activity supports the implementation of Challenge-Based Instruction (CBI) in selected key courses. CBI, a form of inductive learning, has been shown to be a more effective approach to the learning process than the traditional deductive pedagogy. The third activity supports faculty development workshops on CBI techniques and other locally developed teaching tools with a focus on increasing student success, and finally the fourth activity develops and supports pathways to STEM fields between STC and UTPA. This project provides a model that is expected to have a significant impact on the number of STEM graduates and that will be simple to replicate in other geographical areas. Increasing the number of students successfully engaged in STEM fields is a national priority. From an economic competitiveness point of view, it is widely known that the future of U.S. competitiveness hinges on the ability of the educational system to generate the technical workforce that will support the innovation needed to remain competitive. From a regional perspective, the need for STEM graduates is critical to the future sustainability of the development of the South Texas region as a leading manufacturing hub for North America.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for the years 2004-2014 the projected percentage demand in the number of STEM occupations is almost twice the number of all occupations combined. STEM occupations are estimated to grow at about 26% compared with 13% for the total occupation employment rate17. In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Texas became a “majority-minority” state, which refers to a state where the majority of the population is comprised of underrepresented minorities. In addition, the Census Bureau stated that Texas will be one of three states that will contribute to a 46% growth of the U.S. population between the years 2000 and 203026. Hispanics are not only the largest minority group in the U.S., followed by Blacks, but are the fastest-growing minority group27. Thus, it is not surprising that one of the largest increases in college enrollment is expected to come from the Hispanic population. However, in 2005 Hispanics accounted for 5.8% of the college-degreed workforce and only 5.2% of the STEM workforce. Altogether underrepresented minorities compose 24% of the U.S. population, yet comprise only 13% of college graduates and 10% of the total college-degreed

Fuentes, A., & Freeman, R., & Vasquez, H., & Villalobos, C., & Crown, S., & Gonzalez, M., & Ramirez, O. (2009, June), Increasing Student Access, Retention, And Graduation Through An Integrated Stem Pathways Support Initiative For The Rio South Texas Region Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5634

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