STEM Student Retention Rises Thanks to NSF Grant, Campus Teamwork

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A five-year National Science Foundation grant to increase retention of freshmen and sophomores in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs has succeeded beyond expectations in its first three years, fueling growth in peer-mentored labs, tutoring and math-in-context courses, among other support services.

Jaclyn Lovell ’18 (right), a biochemistry major, works with Andrew McElwain of the biological sciences faculty to look for freshwater snails in Rice Creek that may carry parasites. Funded by a five-year NSF STEP grant, Early Summer Scholars is one of five programs designed to encourage freshmen and sophomores to stay with majors in the STEM fields. The college’s proposal had anticipated the five-program suite of early-college support services would have improved retention in STEM majors from freshman to sophomore years by 10 percent to 12 percent at this stage of the grant. With two years remaining in the grant, several of the programs have achieved increases of 13 percent to 15 percent
in freshman-to-sophomore retention.

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