Stanislaus State’s College of Science has been awarded a five-year $5.8 million Department of Education grant to fund STEM (Students Transitioning to Engaged and Motivated) Success, a program designed to help improve freshman and transfer student retention and graduation rates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. STEM Success replaces the former Central Valley Math and Science Alliance (CVMSA).
The new program continues the work of the CVMSA in supporting freshman and transfer students in STEM educational programs. However, the STEM Success program broadens the scope of the former CVMSA program by creating additional opportunities for learning success.
The goals of STEM Success are to strengthen and expand support to local community colleges and increase programming to support the academic success of underserved student demographics.
Data gathered by the CVMSA program found that nearly two-thirds of students who start a STEM major at Stanislaus State are no longer STEM students by graduation. This attrition comes largely through changes in majors or transfers back to community colleges.
“We found that most of that loss occurs in the freshman and sophomore years,” said Mark Grobner, dean of the College of Science. “The STEM Success program targets freshman and transfer students to help them be successful.”
Students often cited difficulty of classes and lack of engagement as the causes of their decisions to change majors. The STEM Success program has been designed to help retain students beyond their freshman or transfer years.
Under STEM Success, Stanislaus State will expand transfer articulation practices to help prepare incoming community college students for success in STEM bachelor’s degree programs. It will include engagement and support in each academic discipline, such as peer and faculty mentoring, undergraduate laboratory research and student-centered activities. The grant also allows for a STEM Summer Experience, which engages incoming freshman in on-campus residential programs and offers transfer students structured, student-centered activities designed to improve retention and graduation rates.
“We have seen more students coming in prepared through these programs,” Grobner said. “It used to be that only 10 percent of students came prepared when they entered our STEM programs. Now we’re seeing 40 to 60 percent. We want our students to feel welcome and part of the college, and this program will do that.”