ASQ - Education Division

An ABC Sampler of Best Practices – NSF STEM Scholar Program at UW-Platteville

Abstract: This paper is co-authored by Lisa M. Landgraf, Tammy Salmon-Stephens and Irfan Ul-Haq of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. This paper is included in the Proceedings for the ASQ 2012 Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference at UW-Stout July 16-17, 2012.

In 2010, the University of Wisconsin - Platteville (UW-Platteville) received a National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM grant. The grant provides ten renewable half tuition scholarships to students majoring in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. One focus of the grant is to encourage women and racially/ethnically diverse students to matriculate. UW-Platteville is a land grant university located in a rural community population of 7,458 undergraduate students. Approximately 50% of the incoming freshmen each year are first generation college-bound students who come from rural areas. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be new to the university, be academically achieving and show financial need. This means that both incoming freshmen and transfer students are eligible to apply. Students who are awarded the scholarship agree to participate in the STEM Scholar program. The program created by four faculty and academic staff members weave s high impact practices to increase retention of students in STEM majors.

This paper begins with a brief description of the NSF S-STEM program. It then describes the programming goals. A description of the application process provides background on the types of students selected as STEM Scholars. Several best practices, including cohort scheduling and development, champions, goal setting, professional development, and peer mentors are then reviewed in detail along with how each are being assessed. Based on feedback and observations made after the first year of the grant, some changes have been implemented with respect to each best practice. Overall, the practices are successful but need to be monitored and adjusted as the program grows.

Keywords: STEM - Conference Proceedings - Student Retention

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