S09: Institutional Case Studies

Chair: Claudia Rankins

Inclusive Chemistry Success Project
Rebecca Ciancanelli and Julia Willis—both of Colorado University Bouldery

The Department of Chemistry and the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) at CU Boulder completed the Fall 2014 Inclusive Chemistry Success Project that coordinates pre-assessment, advising, core instruction, supplementary instruction, and post-assessment. The primary goal was to improve first-term outcomes for a freshman cohort of 20-25 underrepresented and underserved students based in SASC who plan to enroll in a general chemistry course in order to complete a MAPS requirement or to prepare for a STEM major.

SASC combines an historical commitment to social justice with an inclusive model of academic excellence that has always been, and will always be, centered on the student. We define ourselves as a multicultural learning community that serves underrepresented, underserved, first-generation, low-income, and other non-traditional students. We deliver instruction, scholarships, advising, tutoring, resources, and community to improve the recruitment, retention, persistence, and graduation rate of students who contribute to the cultural diversity and academic excellence of the CU Boulder campus.

To begin the Inclusive Chemistry Success Project, we administered the ALEKS chemistry exam as a placement tool during the summer of 2014. Students who scored below a 50% on the exam were encouraged to enroll in the SASC section of introductory chemistry, CHEM 1021. Our SASC instructor, Dr. Rebecca Ciancanelli, collaborated with the chemistry department CHEM 1021 instructor, Dr. Robert Parson, to align the pace of curriculum and assessments. The SASC instructor added two POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry-based Learning) sessions during the week; POGIL is an active learning model of chemistry instruction that has been shown to improve process skills and content knowledge.

Of the 22 students who enrolled in the SASC section of CHEM 1021, 19 students completed the course. We have compared exam grades and course grades of this cohort with the SASC students enrolled in university’s CHEM 1021 course in Spring 2014. Both the spring and fall cohorts took three midterms and a final written by Dr. Robert Parson. The fall SASC cohort showed great improvement over the spring SASC cohort on exams and course grades.

We also have examined some preliminary qualitative data provided by the CLASS (Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey). This survey was administered twice, at the beginning and at the end of the semester. The data suggest improvement in students’ overall understanding of how to learn and apply chemistry knowledge. For example, there was significant improvement in attitude from pre- to post-testing on these statements:

  1. Learning chemistry changes my ideas about how the world works.
  2. When I see a chemical formula, I try to picture how the atoms are arranged and connected.
  3. To understand chemistry, I discuss it with friends and other students.

We have enrolled 24 students in CHEM 1113 (General Chemistry) this semester, and we are following the same project design. We will continue to collect data and eventually analyze the results of the SASC students participating in the Inclusive Chemistry Success Project with both the five-year average for SASC student performance and the five-year average for the general population performance in these chemistry courses. We hope to expand this project to other gateway courses in the sciences, including General Biology I and General Physics I.


Factors that Predict Interest in Pursuing Research Careers among URM Students

Erin Banks, Amy Leonard, and Craig Brookins—all of North Carolina State University


The Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) program at North Carolina State University utilizes a multi-tiered approach to increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) students who attain bachelors and doctorate degrees and engage in research in the biomedical and behavioral sciences (BBS). Although the structure of IMSD and other NIH Funded programs vary by university, all have a component of social support that appears to be critical in students’’ success. Social integration and support found in faculty members and peers has been found critical for student retention (Astin, 1993; Bean, 1980, Tinto, 1993). Foertsch, Alexander & Penberthy (2000) report increased academic achievement, educational aspirations, self-concept and persistence among Latina/os and African Americans when involved in research and mentorship with faculty.

This presentation will focus on the role of non-academic and academic support has on students participating in a federal funded research programs across the southeast. The goal of the session is to discuss preliminary findings on the role of social support and its impact on the retention and academic success of URM students majoring in the BBS fields. This session should benefit upper level undergraduate students, graduate students, administrators, faculty members, and others engaged in the implementation of enhancement programs on campus.

Common Denominators for Successful STEM Graduate School Preparation in the School of Engineering (SoE) and the School of Computer, Mathematics and Natural Sciences (SCMNS) at Morgan State University (MSU).

Christine F. Hohmann, Jumoke Ladeji-Osias, Michel Reece, Cleo Hughes-Darden, Lisa Brown and Stella Hargett—Morgan State University

In the past decade, MSU has been the Baccalaureate granting institution for 45 individuals who received doctorates in Engineering and 61 individuals who received Ph.D. degrees in the Life Sciences and other STEM disciplines (WebCASPAR). This ranks MSU 9th in the nation and 2nd among public institutions in preparing undergraduate students for successful Ph.D. completion. This is particularly remarkable, as the mission of MSU is to provide educational opportunities to students from urban and near-urban public school systems, a population who are frequently first generation college students and over 60% Pell-grant eligible.  Several undergraduate training practices in the School of Engineering (SoE) and the School of Computer, Mathematics and Natural Sciences (SCMNS) have emerged as major contributors to our outcomes.

Structured, summer and academic year research, mentored predominantly by MSU faculty, builds communities of practice among undergraduates, faculty and graduate students. Undergraduate participants in these activities are supported financially at a level equal to or better then off campus employment would afford them.  This is essential, since students depend on such income to support their education.  More then 85% of students in the MBRS RISE program (SCMNS) agree or highly agree that year round mentored research experience has increased their critical thinking skills, their self-confidence, leadership ability and networking skills. In a long-standing summer research program in Engineering (SEM), students pointed out their “enjoyment of working with mentors”, “exploring the field” and “doing something worthwhile”.  Between SEM and MBRS RISE, paid research apprenticeships of >300 undergraduates have been supported and both show student graduation and retention rates in the major, which far exceed respective departmental averages in either School. The MBRS RISE Program has to date graduated 98 % of all participants, most in their original major, > 90 of graduates are currently engaged in a science related occupation, 85% pursued post-graduate education (MS or similar) in a science related discipline, 20% entered Ph.D. Programs and 10% have obtained their Ph.D. to date.  MBRS RISE student performance outpaces those of any program in the SoE, most likely, because MBRS RISE also offers a rich, year-round menu of supplemental academic, skill building (critical thinking, scientific writing, soft skills) and research career-focused activities, all aimed towards enhancement of community, science identity and self-efficacy. For example, 100% of students rated attendance of the Annual ABRCMS conference as “extremely or very helpful” in building their presentation, communication, networking and independent research skills. Several of annual workshop activities, as well as the Critical Analysis of the Scientific Literature class were rated similarly high for “cultural adaptability training for graduate school” and providing “increased critical thinking skills”.  In the SoE, on the other hand, a training component that contributes substantially to the development of science identity among participants is the PACE (Pre-freshman Accelerated Curriculum in Engineering), which incorporates group learning, to facilitate student engagement in undergraduate research.

This symposium will provide detailed descriptions of the various training components that our program evaluations have earmarked as particularly effective in student retention, graduation and importantly, progression into graduate training.  We will discuss these interventions within the sociological framework that renders them effective, particularly within the epistemological environment of the SCMNS and the SoE.

Supported in part by R25GM058904, T34 GM 2T34GM007977 & NSF 0965942.

S10: Career Preparation: Research and Practice

Don't forget to join us in San Antonio for the 2017 UI Conference!

Our 9th Conference on Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation in Science Careers will be held at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, in downtown San Antonio.