Award Number1833656
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation
Effective Date2019-02-01
Expiration Date2024-01-31
Funding Amount$989,475

Abstract

With funding from the National Science Foundation's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, this project at the University of the District of Columbia will support the success of 32 high-achieving students with demonstrated financial need. Throughout its five years, this project will fund cohorts of six students who are pursuing bachelor's degrees in biology, chemistry, or engineering. This project will provide STEM students with supporting activities that have been shown to increase retention and graduation of academically strong, lower-income students. These activities include presentations by distinguished professionals in STEM fields, visits to STEM graduate programs, internships, and research experiences. Analysis of the impact of these activities will increase knowledge about how to recruit, maintain, and graduate lower-income students in STEM fields. Its relatively large population of lower-income students makes the University of the District of Columbia a good choice for this project. In addition, because of its large percentage of students who are under-represented in STEM fields, this project is likely to broaden participation in STEM.

This S-STEM project aims to increase the number of STEM professionals. It concentrates on preparing lower-income, highly qualified STEM students to enter graduate school or the workforce in their STEM disciplines. The project will provide students with activities to develop academic and research skills in STEM. It plans to promote persistence by providing scholars with holistic mentoring, concentrated learning activities, and intensive research experiences. The first objective of the project is to create and maintain a strong academic pipeline of students who enroll, remain in, and graduate from the University with a STEM degree. To do so, it will use an expanded recruitment strategy that incorporates faculty, staff, and an advisory committee in the recruitment and selection process. Secondly, the project will offer enrichment activities to improve students' critical thinking, communication skills, and research capabilities. Thirdly, the project will introduce a holistic mentoring system for the students. This holistic mentoring will include dedicated efforts to provide professional expertise and career skills, advice, and insight, which has been shown to increase the successful completion of STEM degree programs. The mentoring system also will provide a smooth transition to a competitive doctoral degree program or discipline-related job. The project will apply published data that show the benefit of concentrated learning activities such as seminar and workshop attendance, weekly meetings, year-round research experiences, and internships. In addition, this project will offer adaptive programs that change with the individual student's need. It is expected that the project will increase the success of participating students in completing their STEM degree and entering into graduate school or the workforce.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.