The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) through Targeted Infusion Projects supports the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based innovative models and approaches for improving the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may pursue STEM graduate programs and/or careers. The project at Fisk University seeks to develop and implement a two-semester integrated course-laboratory experience in polymer chemistry as an alternative to the traditional General Chemistry two-semester course for undergraduate students. The lecture/discussion and research-embedded laboratories will be interdependently linked to serve as a basis for engendering excitement about the impact that scientific discovery has on society and to build research skills that would be relevant for students' continued engagement in research as an undergraduate STEM major and beyond. Fisk students are disproportionately under-represented minorities; thus increasing student interest and efficacy in STEM will have the direct effect of broadening participation in STEM careers.
The goal of the proposed project is to further enhance student learning and academic outcomes in Chemistry, and to increase student retention in STEM. Specifically, the goals are to: 1) deepen student learning of core concepts in General Chemistry via an Introduction to Polymer Chemistry two semester course sequence integrated with authentic research as an option for meeting the requirements for General Chemistry; 2) develop enduring materials to permit replication of this course (classroom, laboratory and Supplementary Instruction) nationally; and 3) utilize assessment of student outcomes, broadly defined, as embedded educational research. The benefits of achieving the goals of this project include increased student deeper learning of fundamental concepts in General Chemistry, whetting students' interest in STEM fields as a major and as a career.