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.

Assist with Funding

One key to persistence in higher education is access to funding to pay for it. Many students, regardless of background, work to pay for their education and/or support their families. Helping these students find sources of funding that reduce some of that burden and helps forward their education can make a large difference in their success in the geosciences.

  • Advice for developing internship programs: BSGD
  • Information about how departmental research opportunities can strengthen learning as well as finances: InTeGrate
  • Student scholarships and professional development grants: NAGT

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.

Partner with Community Colleges

Two-year colleges are a very important part of broadening access to the geosciences. The majority of first-generation students and those from underrepresented minorities start their post-secondary education at these institutions.

  • Create and strengthen pathways from high school, through two-year colleges (2YCs) to four-year institutions: EarthConnections, InTeGrate
  • Advice for how to support students during the transfer process: SAGE 2YC

Prioritize Advising and Mentoring

Advising and mentoring are critical parts of retaining students in geoscience 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.

Provide Academic Supports

Every student will need some kind of academic support during their education. The key for institutions is to provide a wide range of instructional supports, to help students identify and access support appropriate for them, and to remove barriers to getting needed help. 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 pathways that bring students into STEM disciplines.

  • Support strategies for particular groups of students such as first-generation college students, English language learners, and students with disabilities: SAGE 2YC, IAGD ↗
  • Active learning strategies that support all students' success: Pedagogy in Action
  • Just in time math tutorials in the context of geoscience principles: The Math You Need When You Need It

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 the geosciences.

Teach Students How to Learn

An awareness of the learning process can improve learning dramatically. Students benefit by learning about themselves, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how they can manage their time and their learning strategies most efficiently.

  • Development of self-regulated learners: SAGE 2YC
  • Guidance for the use of metacognitive and affective strategies to increase student learning and motivation: On the Cutting Edge

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.

Develop a Supportive Departmental Culture

These support mechanisms are more effective when they part of a concerted effort at the department or program level. Integrating these practices into a unified whole, and providing the professional development necessary for faculty to be full partners, can magnify the results of any single effort.

  • Program designs that use both curricular and co-curricular activities to support students: BSGD
  • Models of catalyzing systemic changes and embedding them in institutional culture: InTeGrate, SAGE 2YC, For Higher Ed
  • Professional development to illuminate personal culture and bias: InTeGrate, NAGT TWP