New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
This paper details the use of evidence based practices in a strategic effort to recruit, and then retain, undecided admits into a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning community designed to increase student success in STEM and, ultimately, the number of STEM degrees awarded. The primary goal of the National Science Foundation funded learning community (LC), COMPASS, focuses on tapping into the pool of students who have good math potential, but are undecided in a career path, to increase the number of students entering the STEM pipeline. To accomplish this goal COMPASS must first increase the number of undecided non-STEM students converting to STEM disciplines and then increase the STEM retention rate of this group.
The primary intervention is a two-year learning community model enhanced by other evidence based practices including mentoring, curricular cohorts, tutoring and undergraduate research. To foster a unique learning environment where students are comfortable exploring the STEM disciplines, COMPASS places undecided, non-STEM students into one of two tracks during the first-semester in college where they complete a Career Planning: STEM Explorations or STEM Seminar course. In addition to the Career Planning and STEM Seminar courses, students also enroll in cohort math courses throughout the first year, are assigned a STEM program advisor, have the opportunity to live in block housing, receive an upper-division STEM peer mentor, interact in a designated STEM Center with program peers and STEM graduate tutors and participate in an early undergraduate research experience.
This paper discusses COMPASS’ infrastructure, the evidence based practices implemented to achieve its objectives, the results from these activities and the career readiness research as well as lessons learned in the first three years of the LC’s operation. Early results show positive steps in recruitment of undecided students and first-year STEM retention while the Career Planning course participants show a significant decrease in their decision making confusion and look more like their STEM counterparts with less commitment anxiety. This project fills a gap in research on successful STEM recruitment and retention strategies as well as the integration of career readiness assessments and career development interventions in determining early indicators and long-term success of potential STEM recruits. Communities impacted include students displaying confusion regarding career decisions who benefit from early intervention and education on STEM opportunities; education disciplines with a focus on career planning and student development programs; and graduate students whose tutoring of students will eventually help them to be better teachers in their academic careers.
Dagley, M. A., & Young, C. Y., & Georgiopoulos, M., & Daire, A. P., & Parkinson, C. L., & Prescod , D. J., & Belser, C. T. (2016, June), Recruiting Undecided Admits to Pursue a STEM Degree Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26052
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