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Lessons Learned in an S-STEM Program: How to Improve Recruitment and Cohort Building

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jacqueline Gartner Ph.D. Campbell University

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Jacqueline Burgher Gartner is an Assistant Professor at Campbell University in the School of Engineering, which offers a broad BS in engineering with concentrations in chemical and mechanical.

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Michele Miller Campbell University

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Dr. Michele Miller is a Professor and Associate Dean at Campbell University. Prior to joining Campbell in 2017, she was a professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech. She received undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering from Duke and NC State, respectively. Her research interests include engineering education and precision manufacturing.

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Anastasia Marie Rynearson Campbell University Orcid 16x16

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Anastasia Rynearson is an Assistant Professor at Campbell University. She received a PhD from Purdue University in Engineering Education and a B.S. and M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her teaching experience includes outreach activities at various age levels as well as a position as Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Kanazawa Technical College and Future Faculty Fellow teaching First-Year Engineering at Purdue University. She focused on integrated STEM curriculum development as part of an NSF STEM+C grant as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant through INSPIRE in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University Her current research interests focus on early P-12 engineering education and identity development.

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A small liberal arts university in the south received an S-STEM grant in 2018 focused on the School of Engineering. Important factors in the program's success are applicant recruitment and cohort building. Our recruiting efforts targeted at-risk students who entered the University with less math preparation. In the first year, we met our goals for recruitment in terms of overall applicant numbers but not in terms of the number of at-risk students. In the second year, we had fewer overall applicants, but the proportion that were at-risk was higher. In the area of cohort building, feedback from the scholarship recipients indicated our programming did not build community or provide opportunities for them to meet students in the other years. In that first year, the project team organized and led professional development and social events. The social events had little structure, and attendance was poor. In the second year, we hired a consultant to provide sessions for students on topics such as value identification, gratitude, and mindfulness. The sessions had positive student feedback. In addition to providing professional development skills, the interactivity of the sessions helped build a stronger cohort. This paper reviews the lessons learned from the first two years and reports on the results of the third-year program implementation.

Gartner, J., & Miller, M., & Rynearson, A. M. (2021, July), Lessons Learned in an S-STEM Program: How to Improve Recruitment and Cohort Building Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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