One of the most important elements that promote student success is the feeling of belonging and a connection to the university community and its resources. Large research universities who admit 1000's of new students each year can be overwhelming for a new student, especially if they are one of the first in the family to attend a university.
The STEM Academy is an intensive program that requires active student participation! It runs from 9:00am - 9:30pm each day, so Scholars must be highly motivated. These are not boring lectures either. They are engaged and active sessions where Scholars will often work in teams to solve problems. Scholars will have to write and journal about their progress and provide oral reflections to the group to stimulate discussions. It's all about engagement and active learning!
The STEM Academy is designed to create small group learning environments (6:1 Scholar to mentor ratio) that will empower the scholars to build connections with peers, graduate students, faculty and university administrators. Scholars will also have the opportunity to try out various hands-on laboratory exercises and engage in university resources prior to the start of classes. All STEM Academy Scholars are enrolled in an online Canvas organization to facilitate communication and access to resources so that they remain connected after the 5.5 day STEM Program. All STEM Academy Scholars also have opportunities to come together during the Fall/Spring semesters for various events.
Scholars who apply and are accepted into the STEM Academy Living Learning Community will be housed together in the Cypress residence hall and receive additional programming during the Fall/Spring semesters. The LLC will be capped at 60 Scholars to promote maximal engagement.
It is noteworthy that 98% of the 2015 STEM Academy cohort was retained at USF and averaged a 3.50 GPA after the Fall/Spring/Summer semesters. In addition, STEM Scholars reported increased sense of belonging to USF and to the STEM discipline and also showed increased belief in what they could accomplish at USF. For additional details about the impact of the program, see the infographic.