Southern University at Shreveport (SUSLA) requested support for an HBCU-UP implementation award aimed at supporting the institutional mission of SUSLA: to provide a quality education for its students, while being committed to the total community?. Southern University at Shreveport, Louisiana, is a two year institution with a student body enrollment of approximately 2,400, predominantly African American (90%) and predominantly female (76%). The HBCU-UP project is designed to strengthen STEM teaching and research to improve retention of undergraduates and strengthen their academic preparation. Strategies include: i) Course and curriculum reform and enhancement through the incorporation of advances in science and engineering knowledge and research based teaching and learning; ii) faculty professional development; iii) supervised research and active learning experiences for STEM undergraduates in research laboratories and other institutions during the summer; iv) infusion of technology into research and teaching; and v) critical transition activities for student recruitment and retention in STEM disciplines.

Course and curricular reform will focus on gate-keeper courses. The revisions will enhance entry-level lab/research exercises, supported by updated equipment and teaching activities. In addition, through the HBCU-UP project, SUSLA will obtain technology resources to be used to update and enhance the teaching methodology. The courses impacted will include biology, chemistry, computer science, electronics technology and mathematics.

Faculty support will include release time for mentoring of students, support for research and support for participation in scientific meetings.

This project will benefit from strong partnerships aimed at enriching the research experiences for the undergraduate students. SUSLA has partnerships with other academic institutions and private companies, through which students will receive research training, a new activity at this two-year institution. Partnerships with secondary schools will strengthen recruitment efforts through a summer research program for high school students.

Underlying the strategies presented is the focus on high school to undergraduate transition, and associate-baccalaureate-graduate school transitions. The activities aimed at these transition points will be implemented through partnerships with other funded programs, including the LS AMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) and the LSAMP Bridges programs, also funded by the National Science Foundation.

Project Report

Southern University at Shreveport (SUSLA) was the recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) grant from 2008-2014. This award was in accordance to the following objectives: Reform curricula in STEM disciplines Broaden and strengthen the research program for faculty development Enhance quality research experience and strengthen partnerships Infuse technology into teaching and research Enhance recruitment, retention and transition of STEM students Based on the NSF-HBCU-UP objectives, we were able to employ critical strategies that allowed us to achieve successful outcomes. HBCU-UP Outcomes Reform Curricula in STEM Disciplines To prepare STEM students for the transition into four- year institutions, the following pedagogical approaches were successfully incorporated into the STEM curriculum. The infusion of technology, collaborative/facilitative teaching, investigative inquiry and analytical thinking/critical analysis greatly enhanced instructional delivery. Several revisions were made to the STEM gate-keeping courses in the area of entry-level lab/research exercises. Equipment and teaching activities were updated in laboratory and classrooms, and courses were evaluated. Improvement in the methods of instructional delivery included short quizzes, inquiry-based learning, group assignments, tutorial sessions and the increased use of computer technology. Broaden and Strengthen the Research Program of Faculty Development From academic year (AY) 08-09 to present, the HBCU-UP provided support for 50 research STEM faculty members which allowed faculty and students to present 326 research presentations at local, regional, and national scientific conferences. In addition, 35 guest scientist seminar speakers visited SUSLA from major research institutions shared their research knowledge and expertise with faculty and students. A number of SUSLA’s faculty and students were able to develop collaborative research projects with several guest speakers. From fall 2008 to present, 6 faculty and staff served as research mentors to 201 STEM scholars in the on-campus academic year research program. Enhance Quality Research Experience and Strengthen Partnerships Since 2008, HBCU-UP has established long lasting partnerships with 23 academic research institutions and 6 industries. From 2008 until 2014, 75 students participated in summer internships at SUSLA and external REU sites. These experiences significantly improved their views about research and graduate school. Since 2008, HBCU-UP has sponsored weekly guest speaker scientific seminars per academic semester. To date, 51 guest speakers visited and presented seminars at SUSLA. From academic year 08-09 to present, 270 students made presentations at local, regional, and national scientific conferences and two have been recipients of awards for their outstanding presentations. Infuse Technology into Teaching and Research To maximize the use of technology in STEM courses and laboratory research, three science research/teaching laboratories were renovated and the Science and Technology Center (STC) was constructed and completed in May 2012. The STC is equipped with 25 networked computers, software programs, iPads for instructors, LCD projector and Smart Board. Students are able to review computer-based lecture notes on different material to master basic STEM concepts. The advanced technological equipment engaged the students in problem-based learning solutions, and proved useful for real-time, one-on-one personalized instruction in a group setting. Per academic year, over 800 students and faculty have been actively involved in supporting seminar and workshops sponsored within the center. All STEM classrooms were improved by providing state-of-the-art multimedia. Approximately 1,000 students are impacted every academic semester through the integration of technology in STEM classrooms. Enhance Recruitment, Retention and Transition of STEM Students Faculty visited area high schools twice a year to advertise the Summer Research Program and recruit high school students for eight weeks, as a part of the pre-freshman bridging program. Undergraduates were required to participate in network opportunities through linkages with outstanding programs and scientists. Undergraduates attended workshops conducted by consultants and invited speakers from industry and federal labs dealing with topics such as improving study skills, problem-solving methods, professional career development, test-taking skills, cultural diversity, leadership qualities and responsible citizenship. The retention rate for SUSLA is approximately 56.4%. However, for students who are HBCU-UP participants, the retention rate has ranged from 65-70% over the duration of the grant. In addition, the average GPA for the institution is 2.78 whereas the GPA for HBCU-UP Program is 3.53. The STEM academic year scholarship program was initiated to increase student recruitment and retention in STEM programs. Students nominated by STEM faculty with a GPA of 2.8 or higher and a strong interest in pursuing STEM disciplines at the undergraduate level were eligible to receive the scholarship. Scholarships were provided for 138 undergraduates and 56 summer undergraduate research participants. External summer research sites provided support for 36 STEM summer research participants. From fall 2008 to present, over 1,700 students across the STEM disciplines participated in over 276 HBCU-UP sponsored seminars, educational and professional development activities for raising the awareness of graduate education. Through HBCU-UP, 87 STEM scholars graduated and were accepted into STEM programs at four-year universities and five were accepted into graduate programs.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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Claudia M. Rankins
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Southern University at Shreveport
United States
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