Higher Ed Portal > Broadening Participation in STEM > Support Students

Support Students through to Graduation

There are many interconnected aspects to supporting students through STEM programs from admission all the way to attaining their degree. Critical support may come from interactions in the classroom, in co-curricular activities, or as part of student support services outside of academics. In addition, since no two students are alike, the mix of support structures that each will need are different as well. It is important to have a constellation or web of supports available to meet the varying needs of the students who will enter your courses and programs.

Provide Academic Supports

Many students, including some from underrepresented minorities struggle in STEM disciplines, because of gaps in their academic preparation not because of lack of talent. Without assistance, the challenge of starting from a different level can be insurmountable. As part of the solution to this challenges, institutions of higher education need to concern themselves not only with supporting the students that are already on their campuses, but also in strengthening the pipeline that brings students into STEM disciplines.

Build a Sense of Community

Research shows that students who feel they 'belong' have a higher degree of intrinsic motivation and academic confidence. Promoting activities that generate that sense of community and addressing potential barriers to particular groups can pay off in terms of students' ability to see themselves in a STEM discipline.

Teach Students How to Learn

An awareness of the learning process can improve learning dramatically. Both students and faculty benefit from an explicit focus on helping students learn strategies to monitor and regulate their own learning.


Prioritize Advising and Mentoring

Advising and mentoring are critical parts of retaining students in STEM programs and producing graduates who are ready for their next step, whether it be transitioning to the workforce or going on to further study. This can be especially important for first-generation college students who may not have other role-models to provide advice on succeeding in college.

Facilitate Real-World Experiences

Students must gain experience in applying the knowledge and skills to complex, real world challenges. Internships and research opportunities provide students with the opportunity to do the work of their discipline and gain an understanding of what it is like to be a professional in STEM.

Foster Interdisciplinary Learning

Training in science, engineering and mathematics content and skills is necessary, but not sufficient to prepare future leaders in STEM fields. Students need to be able to integrate knowledge from other disciplines in order to transfer, apply, and synthesize their classroom learning into a coherent and usable body of knowledge.