Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Across Arizona’s rural community colleges, administrators and faculty have been convening as a Rural Community College STEM Collaborative to develop and deliver programs for their STEM Pathways initiatives and increase the number of rural students pursuing STEM in support of the local and state workforce pipeline. The collaborative of eight rural Arizona community colleges is facilitated by a non-profit 501(3)(c) whose charter includes K-Career STEM education and a team with focus on Community College STEM Pathways. At the onset of this program, funded by NSF in Fall 2014, all eight colleges were awarded a 3-yr grant (totaling on average $75K per college). The collaborative convened regularly to share knowledge and discuss STEM Pathway gaps, outcomes, and best practices. Over the course of this collaboration, the representatives have developed a trust and a bond that led to sharing of ideas and best practices, as well as a recognition of common challenges that would be better addressed together rather than alone.
Early on, the collaborative agreed to establish a shared definition of STEM - in terms of the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) Codes developed by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This enabled common STEM metrics and data collection methods to measure student participation in the agreed-upon areas of focus (engineering, engineering technology, and computer science). In Fall 2014, the program's external evaluators designed a baseline survey that was completed by each college. The survey requested data on key measures reflecting the colleges’ implementation of interventions to increase students in the STEM pipeline and aligned to a previously developed STEM Pathway Model.
Over the period of the grant there was heightened interest and commitment to collect demographic information on students participating in outreach events, students enrolled in early college programs, and students enrolled in degree and certificate programs. There were also refinements in the categories of data collected and improvements in the accuracy and completeness of the data collection. Member colleges became deeply committed to collecting and analyzing the data and, increasingly, saw the value and the power of the data to drive decision-making and new and expanded initiatives. A formal STEM Metrics Suite was established that has served as a tool for annual data collection, a repository for longitudinal analysis, and formatted statistical data.
Overall, colleges participating in the collaborative have seen significant year to year student increases in the STEM pipeline via outreach, early college programs, internships, and students enrolled in and completing degree and certificate programs, serving as the achievement measure for STEM pipeline progress and success. The colleges have enhanced their leadership role in their communities through outreach events, workshops for K-12 teachers, and STEM kit and equipment donations to area schools. They have increasingly leveraged industry partners to provide students with internship opportunities and participate in outreach events. Moving forward, the colleges have agreed to address a common problem: overcoming the barriers that technicians face in achieving the math credits required to earn their technician certification and/or associates degree.
VanIngen-Dunn, C., & McBride, P. B., & Pickering, C. K., & Fick, V., & Slisz, J. M., & Morgan, J. (2018, June), Meeting STEM Workforce Demand in a Statewide Rural Community College Collaborative Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30804
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