STEM Scholars Bridge Program for Increased Student Retentions, Internship and Career Exploration at University of Southern Maine

Carl Blue
2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
In the summer of 2012, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of Southern Maine (USM) with a scholarship grant for "STEM Opportunities for Academically Capable and Financially Needy Students: University of Southern Maine STEM Scholars Program" (S-STEM-NSF#1153281). This paper provides information on the progress of USM's Summer Bridge Program that was developed as our model for blending the elements of recruitment, retention, and placement into an integrated, comprehensive
more » ... ated, comprehensive but non-intrusive program that promotes student success in transitioning from high schools and community colleges to University of Southern Maine. In the terms of broader Impacts: The project provides increased opportunities for a larger, more diverse population of students, non-traditional, underrepresented and first generation, to obtain a STEM degree and to be placed in an awarding STEM job upon graduation. This pilot study provides educational opportunities from entry to degree completion for 41 academically talented and financially needy incoming freshmen and community college transfer students who are interested in careers in Computer Science, Engineering, Environmental Science, and Technology Management. It is the goal of this report to disseminate information on creating USM STEM-Scholars learning community. Rational and Significance Academically Capable and Financially Needy Students (ACFNS) and the Non-traditional student subgroup. A crucial goal of this project is to provide bridge programming as a framework for scholastic success in targeted areas of academic limitation for non-traditional (NT) students enrolled in STEM degrees. For NT students, factors external to the university have a greater impact on their perception of the university experience [6] . Studies that compared traditional to non-traditional found that among NT students, managing competing priorities, for example, work, children, family, voluntary work, and travelling time to and from campuses ranked the highest and when compared to traditional students [10] . For instance, NT students reported that multiple obligations in their lives lead to difficulties with attendance, including family obligations concerning childcare [9] . Older part--time, and commuter undergraduate student are increasingly a larger portion of the student bodies, yet these students have a higher rate of attrition from college than their traditional counterparts. The reasons why they drop out is not well understood unless we review some of the potential causes [5] . According to the National Survey of Student Engagement from 2006, external obstacles for NT students have made it more difficult for them to develop peer relationships (study groups) at the university [10]. Professional barriers are typically found in the workplace and relate to lack of tuition reimbursement, time management, and/or lack of release time from work. Institutional barriers include lack of access to higher education, the high cost of tuition, and diminished affordability [2] . Furthermore, because adult learners also face the barriers previously mentioned, they may be coping with life situations that can add additional stress and/or anxiety, and this life stress may compound the academic stress they are experiencing [2] . Adult learners appear to be subject to age--related stereotype threat regarding their math performance suggesting that their perceptions of their own ability are negatively influenced by the stereotype that Page 26.1397.3
doi:10.18260/p.24734 fatcat:w6uj6pcvirecll6rzy4vdhjb4y