The overall goal of this project is to increase STEM degree completion of high-achieving undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to obtain degrees in engineering and enter the workforce or graduate programs in STEM fields. The recruitment effort, open to all U.S. residents and permanent residents, will emphasize first-time-college students, underrepresented minorities, females, and transfer students, thus providing a diverse cohort with the opportunity to enter and successfully graduate with an ABET-accredited engineering degree. Preference will be given to freshmen applicants to the Civil Engineering program, however all other engineering freshmen applicants with an interest in Engineering Sustainability will also be considered for the STEM scholarships. Specific objectives include: (i) providing undergraduate Mizzou Engineering STEM Scholars with early intervention and comprehensive support in foundational courses; (ii) generating knowledge to advance the understanding of how factors and evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities affect student success, retention, transfer, academic/career pathways, and graduation in STEM; (iii) mentoring undergraduate scholars to matriculate into the University’s graduate engineering program; and, (iv) sustaining all of the objectives beyond the award period by building institutional capacity for support of academically high-performing students from low-income backgrounds.
The project intends to implement a synergistic strategy for student success that builds on existing institutional resources and develops new project-specific support mechanisms, including early assessment and timely intervention. Knowledge generation efforts will advance understanding of self-efficacy, cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of student experiences and success measures, and “sense of community” indicators. The project will include an investigation of how these evidence-based practices and synergistic strategies affect student outcomes. Both internal and external evaluations include formative and summative assessments to enable ongoing project improvement and to determine the effectiveness of the approaches used. This project is funded by NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, which seeks to increase the number of academically talented students with demonstrated financial need to earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students.
As a component of its broader impact, this project will build a lasting institutional infrastructure and networks that will continue to generate new knowledge about how to support the success, retention, transfer, graduation, and entry of students into the STEM workforce or graduate study. The intellectual merit of this project includes its development of a comprehensive approach for early, active support of undergraduates in foundational engineering courses. This approach is expected to result in increased persistence and timely graduation of students with degrees in civil engineering, thus preparing students to excel in the STEM workforce or graduate studies.