Innovation through Institutional Integration (I-Cubed) Program at Xavier University of LA

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Tiera S. Coston, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
Background: Xavier University of Louisiana is nationally recognized for its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula, and many students are attracted by its reputation in the sciences. However, most of these students have received inadequate preparation in science and math and are academically underprepared to succeed in STEM majors. The Innovation through Institutional Integration (I-Cubed) Program is designed to address this under-preparedness and ease the transition of students from high school through the first year of college. The goals of the I-Cubed Program are to increase collaboration and communication among faculty engaged in freshman year STEM course/curricula development; increase availability and ease of access to innovative resources on best practices as well as related educational research for faculty engaged in STEM course/curricula development; create a more comprehensive and unified approach to the development and refinement of Xavier’s freshman STEM curricula; acquire formative and summative tools that more effectively evaluate the individual STEM course/curricula development initiatives, allow for comparison of strategies and results across these initiatives, and provide comprehensive, longer-term measures of overall curricular impact; stimulate and facilitate research on the efficacy of the instructional and evaluation strategies developed; and provide mechanisms for active dissemination of lessons learned and successes achieved. Methods: STEM faculty were awarded mini-grants to revise existing or develop new introductory-level STEM courses that enhance the learning and retention of STEM freshmen by the addition of new knowledge, enhancement of critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and computer literacy skills and/or the inclusion of real-world applications. Results: Most of the changes have been implemented, with minor modifications and assessment still ongoing. Some projects show early success, with the most notable being the approximately 20% increase in the number of students who successfully complete developmental math since the integration of I-Cubed-funded modifications. Intra- and inter-departmental communication and collaboration has significantly increased among STEM faculty. Additionally, there is both a course-specific and overall improvement in the retention of STEM students. Conclusions: The I-Cubed Program continues to play a major role in the University's initiatives to assess and improve introductory-level courses, student retention and student success rates. The Program has been very successful in bridging the silos and bringing together the various STEM departments, and student and faculty support offices. There is also culture change to one of interdisciplinary collaboration and open communication. Notably, I-Cubed is often used as a model for developing other institutional programs geared towards increasing student retention and academic success.