This STEP Type 1B project is increasing the number and diversity of STEM graduates in the College of Science (COS) through retention strategies emphasizing academic success and engagement with the scientific process and community. The project is adopting and building on successful practices employed by the institution's College of Engineering (COE) through its earlier STEP award, DUE-0431646. Features include: 1) a summer bridge program that is providing academic enrichment and advising to prepare incoming freshman and transfer students for the rigors of their degree programs in science and 2) establishment of a freshman residential learning community for physical and quantitative science majors that complements existing engineering and life science learning communities (Hypatia, Galileo, and the Biological Sciences Learning Community). In particular, the PI team is working with engineering colleagues to integrate COS and COE students in both STEP efforts as part of a university-wide agenda to develop interdisciplinary undergraduate training in "scieneering." In addition to building upon the success of COE's STEP award, the COS is enhancing its first-year experience program for transfer students to better serve the physical and quantitative science majors. The program centers on a one-semester, two-credit active-learning seminar and is available to COE transfer students as well. The intellectual merit of this project rests not just in the quality of its strategies and activities, but also in the rigorous assessment of the role its particular implementation of a first-year experience for traditional first-year students and transfer students plays in promoting academic retention and success. The project is exercising broader impacts through its ambitious goal of increasing the number of graduates in the physical and quantitative sciences by twenty-five percent annually. Moreover, vigorous efforts are in place to recruit students who thus far remain underrepresented in STEM fields (e.g. low-income, first-generation, women, and underrepresented minorities), therefore offering an important opportunity to increase the diversity of the population of STEM graduates.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
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Lee L. Zia
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United States
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