Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Science and Mathematics Education
Jana Marcette - Harris-Stowe State University
Co-Author(s): Anbreen Bashir, Tiffanie Fowlkes, Scott Horrell, Sandra Leal, John MacDougal, and Diane Smoot, Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis, MO
Despite intense interest and research into promoting the success of under-represented students in STEM, a gap remains. Nationally, retention in science fields is lower for students in low-income brackets, first-generation students, and minority students. Harris-Stowe State University is an ideal place to study factors that can promote Biology student retention. Harris-Stowe is an open-enrollment Historically Black College/University that ranks in the top of Missouri public institutions in the degree production of African-Americans. Harris-Stowe was awarded a Targeted Infusion Project in the Fall of 2015, and a core component is the implementation of discovery based biotechnology laboratories and a freshman seminar. By interconnecting required curriculum with faculty research, the program is expected to engage students with faculty, fostering student success and persistence. Students perform the bench-work portion of their introductory biology lab class in the newly created and only research space on campus for faculty. The redesigned program provides the opportunity for students whose interest is peaked in required coursework to continue working closely with faculty as research students. In the introductory biology laboratory, faculty stress that students are doing discovery-based research in faculty lab space and opportunities for students to present research as part of building a science career pathway. Four students have already presented neuroscience research conducted as a part of their Fall 2016 introductory biology lab at a local meeting. Seven students applied to present their Fall 2016 course-based research at the 2017 Emerging Researchers National Conference. For Fall 2016, the new Applications of Biotechnology freshman seminar, focused on ethics and biotechnology. Writing and how to improve writing skills were also stressed. The excitement and student ownership regarding the new curriculum was highlighted in a tour of instrumentation in the new Biotechnology Research Center, where one freshman seminar student remarked that she would be taking intro bio lab next semester and would get to use the microscopes to ‘do my project’. Laboratory faculty have also reported gains in engagement of students during laboratory class-time, and through assessment of this program we intend to build both academic and social strategies that promote the achievement of students.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This project is funded by a National Science Foundation HBCU-UP TIP grant, award number 1533545. Laboratory renovations and additional equipment are being internally funded by Harris-Stowe State University.
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,