Diversity in STEM

Engaging and Retaining Low-Income/First-Generation (LIFG) Community College Students in STEM and Engineering

Funded by NSF DUE 143-1264, 2014-2018

PIs: Liz Cox, Director of IDEA Institute and Barbra Sobhani, Director of Honors

This project is developing new approaches and models to better engage and support low-income and/or first generation (LIFG) students in pre-engineering programs to improve success, retention, motivation, and persistence to transfer to four-year institutions in engineering through the following:

  1. Develop faculty knowledge and pedagogy on how to engage LIFG students in the STEM classroom.
  2. Develop a meaningful mentoring process for LIFG students.
  3. Create a relevant learning environment through pedagogy that engages LIFG students.
  4. Motivate LIFG students to pursue a STEM pathway through real-world and research experiences.
  5. Provide a model of community college - university collaboration and transfer as a pathway for LIFG students to enter the engineering workforce.

Key Activities:

I.  Faculty Development Workshops

This project developed a workshop series with Jon Leydens, Colorado School of Mines faculty on developing Red Rocks STEM faculty as meaningful mentors of LIFG students. Workshops were held in Summers 2015 and 2016.

Agenda for Faculty Workshop, August 2015 

Workshop: Promoting Student Success

Literature Review on LIFG Student Success

Agenda for Faculty Workshop, May 2016

The project also developed workshops for both full-time and part-time STEM instructors on engaging LIFG students in active STEM classroom. Workshops delivered Fall 2016, Fall 2017 and Spring 2017.

Active STEM Classrooms, Fall 2016

STEM and Student Engagement, Spring 2017

STEM and Student Engagement, Fall 2017

II. Summer Research Experiences

Between Summer 2015 and Summer 2018, 21 LIFG students participated in research experiences at either Colorado School of Mines, CU-Boulder or other STEM labs. 

Highlights of research experiences

III. Engineering and real world projects

We created a new course, Introduction to Design and Engineering Applications (EGT 140 IDEA), as a project-based learning experience around engineering and design. This course is now a guaranteed transfer course to Colorado School of Mines and CU-Boulder. Existing courses, EGG 100 - Introduction to Engineering and EGG 106 Robotics Design, were revised to integrate project-based learning. EGG 100 Introduction to Engineering is now the starting point for our forthcoming Guided Pathway in Engineering [LIFG enrollment in Fall 2018]. The Guided Pathway in Engineering both supports the articulation agreement to Colorado School of Mines and enhances the transfer process by providing students a roadmap, a peer group, and engagement. 

The IDEA Lab was created to increase retention of LIFG students as well as provide more opportunities for hands-on learning. Of the participants enrolled 2017-2018, 58% were LIFG, with a 61% year-to-year retention rate for LIFG students.

"This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-143-1264."

National Science Foundation

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