A Linear Leadership Development Model for STEM Success Delaware State University (DSU), and Historically Black University (HBCU) with an 82% minority enrollment, is developing a tradition of producing minority graduates who subsequently enter Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences. Not only does DSU's NIH-funded MARC program have a 100% success rate for sending graduates on to graduate school, but in recent years, DSU has also significantly increased the number of undergraduate students involved in research on campus, thus strengthening student applications for graduate school. DSU has also upgraded and expanded biomedical Master's programs to produce more graduates intent on entering Ph.D. programs. In the current application, we propose to build upon that foundation to increase the number and quality of underrepresented students graduating from DSU in STEM areas and entering into Ph.D. programs. We propose a linear leadership development model, beginning with undergraduate freshman and sophomores and extending through Master's level graduate students. Our first focus will be to engage students in research and career development activities early in their academic program within an intrusive mentoring network of both faculty and graduate students. Our second focus will be adopting a Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) model of cooperative learning, which will serve a 3-fold purpose: 1) to enhance our current curriculum, making classes more inquiry-based, 2) to help students succeed in gatekeeper courses and transition successfully from introductory to more advanced material, and 3) to continue the leadership development of both RISE scholars and other undergraduate academic achievers, moving them into peer leader positions. Incorporating the PLTL model into our courses will foster a more academic culture for all science majors and will likely serve as a model for other disciplines on campus. The third focus of our proposed program will be to support students in DSU's biomedical graduate programs with research experiences, mentoring, and professional preparation. Graduate level RISE scholars will also continue leadership development by serving as mentors for the undergraduate scholars. The goals of this program are consistent with DSU's institutional goals and complement existing student support programs on campus. With support of the RISE project, DSU will support a cadre of 10-15 undergraduate RISE scholars per year and will provide them with research training, academic support, and sustained mentoring throughout their undergraduate career. We will support the introduction of PLTL and other active, cooperative, and inquiry-based models in our gatekeeper classes, using the College-wide introduction of PLTL at Morehouse College as our model. Finally, in addition to the undergraduate support programs, DSU's RISE project will support 3-6 graduate RISE scholars per year with stipends, research supplies, and professional development. These graduate level RISE scholars will also serve as undergraduate mentors and role models. We will assess the progress of our students and the new programs implemented with the RISE support yearly with standardized testing, participant surveys, focus groups, and outcomes assessment. Impact of Program: The proposed program will enhance the scientific educational environment at DSU for both undergraduate and graduate-level minority students. The DSU-RISE program would ensure early research experiences, active classroom learning, high-level mentoring, and leadership development training for targeted students, increasing their preparedness for high quality Ph.D. programs and attractiveness as candidates for those programs. The strengthened research and research-training infrastructure at DSU will increase the number of minority students successfully pursuing PhD degrees in the Life Sciences and increase faculty productivity. The program will also serve as a role model for other colleges and departments on campus to incorporate both PLTL (or other) active-learning models and similar leadership development programs.
Delaware State University is an HBCU with an 82% minority enrollment. The DSU MBRS- RISE program will increase the number of minority students who enter and complete Ph.D. programs in the Biomedical Sciences by: 1) strengthening the academic and research training of undergraduate STEM students at DSU by involving them in mentoring and research early in their academic careers;2) strengthening the undergraduate STEM curriculum at DSU by adapting the successful Peer Led Team Learning model;3) building the academic and research skills of minority graduate students by providing them with stipend support to pursue their degree full-time, excellent research training, and professional development opportunities.