Broadening the Pool
Successfully recruiting diverse students into STEM majors is a process involving multiple stages throughout students' educational development, from kindergarten through college. Stimulating and supporting interest in STEM among K–12 students, supporting pre-service and in-service K–12 teachers with content and professional development, bridge programs for admitted students, and collegiate partnerships are all pieces of the puzzle that Capstone programs have utilized to broaden access to STEM study and careers. Various tools can and should be used to assess recruitment programs and achieve better long-term outcomes.
Work with Local Educators and/or Schoolchildren
Some programs help schools and in-service teachers develop or improve their STEM curricula and/or give pre-service teachers (i.e., undergraduate students) classroom experience in public schools.
Smith's Science Teaching Fellowship/Internship Program places pairs of undergraduate science majors in local schools to teach kindergarten to high school students for a week.
Barnard's Science in the City program pairs pre-service teachers (education students from Barnard and Columbia) with in-service teachers (from local elementary and middle schools) in seminar and classroom settings.
Hope's Explore Center engages K–12 educators, Hope students and Hope faculty in summer STEM inquiry activities. Engagement of teachers in the summer program is designed to feed back into the K–12 classrooms as the teachers adopt high-quality STEM inquiry curricula and teaching techniques.
Hunter College biology education MA students (pre-service teachers) and in-service high school and eighth-grade teachers take a four-week, lab-intensive molecular biology/biotechnology summer workshop in biology education. Each develops a lesson plan on what was learned in the workshop, and, with a grade of B or better, teaches the lesson plan to their students during the academic year with equipment and supplies purchased with HHMI-USE funds.
Work with High School Students
Programs aimed at high school students who have expressed interest in science careers are designed to enhance knowledge of the subject matter prior to the student taking the course in high school and/or college and to solidify students' STEM interest and intentions as they continue their education.
Xavier's Summer Science Academy for High School Students comprises of a variety of summer outreach programs for high school students. These include the SOAR (Stress On Analytical Reasoning) and the STAR (Biostar, Mathstar, Chemstar) programs. Over the years, these have become highly sought after and have led to the development of additional community outreach and potential recruitment summer programs.
Each year, the Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP) provides about one hundred high school women with strong STEM interests the opportunity to reside at Smith while engaging in hands-on research with faculty.
Spelman's Career Exploration Program (CEP) enrolled rising twelfth-grade girls and was formatted to focus on biomedical careers and lab-based projects, with a specific focus on cancer as a topic in the last two years of the program.
Hunter's partnership with the Manhattan Hunter Science High School includes a credit-bearing Research Techniques Facility workshop and summer research opportunities for top workshop participants with Hunter faculty. A recently created Accelerated Biotechnology BA/MA degree track enables qualified twelfth-graders to take first-year chemistry, biology and pre-calculus at the college so that they enter having completed core courses for the biotechnology track in the biology major and can complete a BA/MA degree in four years at the college.
Work with Admitted Students
In order to broaden the pool of students who consider studying STEM, it is essential that your institution make the most of introductory or general education courses. Encourage the best teachers among your faculty to take on these courses as a way of generating enthusiasm for your discipline and drawing students into taking more courses as a prelude to declaring a major.
Another important way to draw students into STEM fields is through peer recruiting. Students already doing advanced research can engage with admitted and fellow students to introduce them to science culture at your institution and promote the intellectual rewards of pursuing of science research.
At Barnard, Research Interns participate in poster sessions at open houses for high school seniors who have been admitted to Barnard, but who have not yet committed to attend. Admitted students and their families have an opportunity to interact with current students engaged in scientific research and learn about the science culture at the college.
Hope's Day1: Watershed program brings first-year students interested in STEM fields to campus one week early to begin their First Year Course-based Research Experience. They work closely with faculty and a group of upper-level research mentors who not only help them make a smooth transition from high school to college, but also help them see the relevance and excitement of doing science.
Summer programs that provide intensive academic experiences before classes begin can help to build community, prepare students for the rigorous expectations of college math and science courses, and encourage them to become involved in science research.
The Barnard HEOP program prepares admitted students from low-income and/or educationally disadvantaged families for the rigors of a Barnard education by providing them with supportive academic experience in math and sciences during the summer before their first year.
Both Smith and Bryn Mawr host STEM Posse Scholars programs. Students in this program take part in an immersion experience before the academic year and participate in the Posse program with a cohort of students interested in STEM degrees and careers.
Swarthmore's Summer Scholars program provides students with a full academic immersion experience prior to the beginning of their freshman year.
Partnerships of four-year schools with other undergraduate institutions (e.g. community colleges) can facilitate the transfer of students to four year-colleges and foster their retention in the sciences.
The Intercollegiate Partnership, a collaborative effort between Barnard College and LaGuardia Community College, provides an opportunity for sixteen community college students to participate in a five-week residential program at Barnard each summer. Participants are introduced to the rigorous expectations at a four-year institution and provided with support that models how to succeed in a rigorous academic setting.