A Holistic Model for Supporting a Diverse Student Body in the STEM Fields
Abstract: This is a conference paper for the Education Division's 2011 ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda in Education, the Workplace and Society Conference. The paper's authors are Kitrina Carlson and Krista C. James of the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
The Applied Science Program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout has experienced unprecedented growth in both student numbers and resources available to support students, such as the construction of a new, $43M science building. Unfortunately, like most science programs across the country, students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds are significantly underrepresented in the student body, making up less than 6% of the total Applied Science student population at the time this study was implemented. This lack of diversity reduces opportunities for people from minority populations to work in predicted future job markets associated with scientific technology and innovation. To address the issue of underrepresentation, the Applied Science Program implemented an NSF S-STEM funded model initiative to support the recruitment, retention and career success of academically able but financially disadvantaged underserved and underrepresented students. This model incorporates! a holistic approach to STEM education and incorporates several High Impact Practices (HIPs), including a summer bridge program, faculty and peer mentors, a freshmen living-learning community, and undergraduate research experiences. The implementation of this model was supported by NSF S-STEM scholarship funding and the coordination of synergistic campus-wide programming already established on the campus. After a year of planning (2009-2010), the first scholarships were awarded for fall 2010. First year assessment data indicate Applied Science students, and NSF S-STEM Scholars in particular, feel connected to Applied Science peers and faculty and more confident about succeeding in college and with their careers.
Keywords: STEM - Student Retention - Conference Proceedings - Student Support