Broadening Participation through a Community-Building Approach in STEM: Carleton College's Cohort Program Components and Evaluation
REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room
Cohort programs supporting students' sense of belonging, support for learning, and drive to succeed have been instrumental in increasing successful completion of STEM majors by members of underrepresented groups at Carleton College. Carleton has designed two cohort programs, Focusing on Cultivating Scientists (FOCUS) and the Carleton Summer Science Fellows (CSSF); each is used to support students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields based on race, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status. The FOCUS program is integrated into the Carleton curriculum and creates a cohort which enrolls in classes together, meets in a colloquium throughout the first and second year, and has multiple opportunities for active advising, mentoring, and support. The CSSF program is a separate research-based cohort which includes two summers of research on or off campus, as well as a credit-bearing colloquium in the terms before and following the research experiences. These programs were designed to support the three aspects of student development mentioned above. Findings from six years of evaluation demonstrate the value of the community of learners and influence of the programmatic features of advising, peer mentoring, colloquium style instruction, and undergraduate research in nurturing students' drive to succeed in STEM fields. Our research also highlighted the barriers faced by cohort students and which challenges persist for all students. This presentation will describe our programs, the theoretical framework we used to inform our research and program improvements, and the findings from surveys, interviews, and observations in our broadening access programs.