Saturday, February 18, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Kevin Shuman, Wesley College, Dover, DE
Background:Wesley College is Delaware’s private, liberal-arts minority-serving institution, and over 40% of its undergraduates are first-gen college students. In the STEM areas, Wesley offers B.S. degrees in biological chemistry, biology, environmental science, environment policy, mathematics, and medical technology. In 2014 to support scholarships in STEM, an NSF S-STEM (1355554) grant allowed Wesley to implement a coordinated student support program (Cannon Scholar) for academically talented and financially needy students. Methods: The Cannon Scholar program offers scholarships to a mixed cohort of Scholars in biology, biological chemistry, environmental science, and mathematics. The monetary scholarships are coupled with a comprehensive package of student outreach and support including; an active living-learning community, academic mentoring from STEM faculty, expanding tutoring services, special programming for first-gen students, independent research opportunities for high-achieving students, career-advancement and job-placement counseling. In addition, the Scholars take several common core-curriculum classes with opportunities to work in small collaborative groups together and where the skills of inquiry and communication are emphasized. Results: The 2014 and 2015 academic year-to-year retention rate for the Cannon Scholar program was 93.5% and 91.4% respectively. In comparison, the corresponding retention rates for the STEM undergraduate population (excluding Cannon Scholar program participants) was 71.6% in AY 2014, and 62.5% in AY 2015. During the same time-frame (AY 2014 and AY 2015), the general College population had retention rates of 71.7% and 69.4% respectively. Conclusions: Dedicated faculty mentoring with a focused commitment on the individual student has allowed for new approaches and early interventions. The Cannon Scholar program has had a measurable impact in increasing (participant) academic-success rates thus improving retention and significantly reducing attrition.