Increasing both the total number of STEM degrees awarded, and the number of STEM degrees awarded to underrepresented students, are priorities in both West Virginia and Kentucky. The 2000 Census reported that over 25% of the U.S. population was African- American, Hispanic or Native American. These same minority groups made up only 9% and 4.1% of the population in Kentucky and West Virginia respectively. These numbers represent a recruitment challenge for the Alliance but have also served to strengthen the resolve of the participating institutions. The KY WV LSAMP alliance is a collaboration of ten academic institutions, the KY-NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), the WV-NSF EPSCoR, two state agencies, and the initial stage of a developing industrial support base. The Alliance partners submit this Phase I proposal to significantly increase the quality and quantity of underrepresented students receiving baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields, and enhance their research career aspirations. The current baseline total number of minority STEM baccalaureate degrees annually for these Alliance institutions is 128. This value is derived from 5-year averages where available to more accurately establish an appropriate baseline value. Current institutional databases are unable to individually distinguish Asian and Pacific Islanders. Thus, the values reported for minority populations in this proposal consist of African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. The 5-year target at the end of the Phase I project is to increase this number by 111%, achieving an annual minority STEM baccalaureate degree production of 270. The partners of the KY WV LSAMP submit this Phase I LSAMP proposal to reach the goal of creating diverse campus environments and increasing minority STEM baccalaureate degree production. The developed approach incorporates those six identified characteristics of successful programs in a manner tailored for the Alliance institutions and the two states. The focus areas for our approach are: Recruitment and retention Research experiences Transitional experiences Climate Curriculum reform Postgraduate career aspirations Role models In addition to individual campus activities in these areas, the Alliance will be enhanced by a best-practices committee of partner institutions for each focus area. Alliance-wide activities include an annual student research symposium, and workshops on such topics as the benefits of graduate school, preparation for graduate school, research career options, incorporating diversity into the curriculum, mentoring, and recruitment and retention of minority STEM faculty. The potential impact of this program will be visible on both campus and state levels. The intellectual merit of the proposed activity is the increased knowledge base related to teaching and learning practices for STEM disciplines, the knowledge base regarding practices for improved retention, and the development of improved curriculum materials and practices for STEM disciplines. The foremost broader impact is the increase in minority STEM baccalaureate degree production. This will broaden the math, science, and engineering participation of underrepresented students in two states. The increase in skilled workforce has the potential to significantly stimulate the competitive position of the two states relative to that available with the current educational levels, and in doing so, attract new jobs which diversify the economic base. Improvements in the faculty demographics add expanded research capacity to academic community and broaden the participation of underrepresented faculty in STEM disciplines.

Project Report

U.S. competitiveness in the global economy is hampered if we can't draw on the talents of all. Losing contributions from any group with talents to offer in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering, the sources of many of our most innovative technological breakthroughs, is wasteful. The principal goals of the Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, KY-WV LSAMP for short, are to increase the quantity and quality of students from underrepresented groups earning baccalaureate degrees in STEM disciplines (including the Sciences, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering) and providing the knowledge and opportunities for continuing into a STEM-related graduate program or direct entry into the STEM workforce. The program is needed because STEM fields are demanding. Talented students may need both more preparation in academic areas and more support and encouragement to use their talents in these fields. Recognizing the diversity of student preference, the LSAMP’s institutions vary in size, setting (rural versus urban), programmatic and mission focus, student demographics, and degree of research emphasis. They are the University of Kentucky (lead institution), Kentucky State University (HBCU--Historically Black Colleges and Universities), Centre College, University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, and Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Kentucky. In West Virginia, they are West Virginia University, West Virginia State University (HBCU), Marshall University, and Kanawha Community and Technical College. The focus areas chosen for the strategies to meet the overall goals are: recruitment and retention -- bringing students into these majors and keeping them in the major until graduation -- research experiences, that is, participation in faculty-led research in the labs, which has been shown to attract and retain students in STEM fields; transitional experiences, which help students make the adjustment between their last year of high school and their first year of college; campus climate enhancement, to make underrepresented students feel more comfortable and at home on their campus; curriculum reform, to re-design the sometimes intimidating first year courses that can turn away otherwise gifted students, and programs to increase postgraduate career aspirations by providing role models from underrepresented groups. The different missions and strengths of the alliance partners provided the basis for different strategies for each of the focus areas. One of the most successful alliance-wide programs is the annual KY-WV LSAMP Student Research Symposium. A talented group of STEM faculty members mentor students in high-level research projects which are presented orally and in posters and evaluated by STEM faculty experts. Due to the recognition they receive, many students go on to present in other venues and have earned national recognition for achievement as a result of this program. The symposium also features national STEM role models who interact with the LSAMP students during the sessions. Transfer programs and centers have been created or utilized to facilitate pathways from two-year to four-year partner institutions. For some students, this is the best, least expensive and least intimdating way to start a college career, since two year programs are more flexible and more experienced in helping students from diverse backgrounds. Curricular reforms have been instituted as exemplified by the Emerging Scholars Program (ESP) for Calculus. These are models for institutionalization -- meaning Federally-funded programs take root in the institutions and continue beyond the funding period -- throughout the Alliance. Instead of using calculus as a way to weed out those who don't have as much high school preparation as others do, this approach coaches students to succeed in this difficult first year course; success in this kind of course has been showed to boost retention in STEM fields by giving students what's called "self-efficacy." In simpler terms, confidence that no matter how difficult the material might seem at first, it can be learned. Attracting and retaining students in STEM is a complex effort that calls for a number of players with an interest in a successful outcome, including state government agencies and future employers in need of more STEM talent. The KY-WV LSAMP has been a catalyst for developing relationships with a wide array of stakeholders that include the Kentucky and West Virginia NSF EPSCoR programs, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Coca Cola Corporation, Toyota Kentucky, Muhammad Ali Museum, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kentucky Corp of Engineers, Kentucky Rural Elective, the National College Board, Met Life Insurance, and even the Cincinnati Bengals Football Enterprise, a sponsor of a unique program to build STEM student pipelines. All in all, KY-WVA has had a double impact. The program built a network of relationships through which ideas, programs and challenges could be shared, thus making the best possible use of federal dollars. And the program has had an impact on many students who might not have gone on to college or have gone on to perserve and then graduate in a STEM field.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
Cooperative Agreement (Coop)
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Dr. A. James Hicks
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University of Kentucky
United States
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