Growth in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are critical to the advancement of Missouri State University (MSU), the State of Missouri, and the United States of America. This proposal to The National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program aims to significantly increase the quality and number of graduates in the STEM fields of computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics at MSU. This will be achieved with the use of scholarships that attract and retain students interested in STEM fields, seminar classes, volunteer opportunities, and tutoring in Calculus II and III and Physics I and II. The core of student support services will be a one credit a semester seminar course. Topics will emphasize other student support opportunities, student success strategies, internships, undergraduate research, employment, and graduate school. Scholarships will be provided to 15 sophomore and 6 transfer students each year based on academic talent and financial need. These scholarships will last for two years, provided progression toward graduation. More than 84 computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics students will be directly impacted by these scholarships which cover 44% of typical instate tuition. The results of these efforts will be distributed locally, regionally, and nationally to the benefit of other similar efforts.
This project will enhance student retention, performance, breadth of understanding, and student peer support networks as well as enhance the understanding of cohort seminars, course specific tutoring, mentoring, and group building among STEM disciplines on the campus of Missouri State University (MSU). Each of these areas will be evaluated by an external evaluator associated with this proposed S-STEM project. The evaluation will be conducted using surveys and performance in specific courses to gather both quantitative and qualitative information about all aspects of the project. The results will be used to improve all aspects of the project, many of which will continue beyond the project’s duration. Implementation of orientation courses at MSU which are focused on a specific major is an evolving practice at MSU. Actions and results from that process will dovetail with the MSU S-STEM program. This project will benefit local, regional, and national understanding of learning dynamics. A well rounded team has been formed to ensure that each step of the proposed S-STEM project will be executed with thorough diligence and examination of student needs and project goals. These support mechanisms and commitment to success ensure that not only will students and MSU benefit from the NSF S-STEM program, but the Nation as a whole will benefit as well.
This proposed NSF S-STEM program at MSU will positively affect students, the university, and understanding of the learning process. Data reflecting the successes and any deficiencies of this program will be used to improve the program for all participants as well as informing the academic community through journal and conference papers and presentations at national and regional conferences. Underrepresented groups will be targeted with specific mentoring geared to their needs. Economically disadvantaged students will be prioritized through financial need during the selection process. Involvement in the seminar courses, increased faculty mentoring, and volunteer opportunities will encourage students to embrace the STEM community and find their own identity within it, while simultaneously learning the necessary art of cross-STEM collaboration and how to mentor the next generation of scientists. Information gathered during the seminars, mentoring, and during student evaluation of the program will positively impact approaches to student group building and many other student support programs. Improving the quality and number of STEM graduates through the S-STEM program at MSU will help fill the need of more qualified STEM professionals in the state of Missouri and the Nation.