The shortage of graduates needed to keep the U.S. globally competitive in STEM fields requires collaborative strategies to encourage more students, in particular URMs, to enroll as STEM majors at research universities and graduate with STEM baccalaureate degrees. Student persistence in STEM disciplines requires development of academic self-efficacy, science identity, and enthusiasm for discussing scientific theories and discovery. To address the need for more STEM graduates, LUC in partnership with HHMI, Chicago public and Cristo Rey Network high schools, and the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (CAS-PNNM) proposes a multifaceted strategy, grounded in relevant research to: 1] develop research-intense learning communities for freshmen STEM majors; 2] design more engaging introductory lecture and laboratory science courses through use of faculty learning communities to improve STEM faculty pedagogy; 3] develop new models for innovative and impactful research; and 4] foster collaborative relationships between select community partners and LUC to enhance high school and undergraduate students' knowledge of, interest in, and ultimately persistence in STEM fields.
Six benchmarks will be used to monitor our progress. Benchmark 1: 90% of students who participate in research-intensive learning communities will further participate in LUROP, a STEM research internship, or a STEM outreach program. Benchmark 2: Persistence of all freshmen STEM majors into their sophomore year will increase from 85.5% to 90%, from 83.3 to 90% for URM freshmen STEM majors, and from 85.1 to 90% for women freshmen STEM majors. Benchmark 3: Persistence of STEM majors to graduation will increase from 70.6% to 80%, from 62.2% to 80% for URM STEM majors, and from 68.5% to 80% for women STEM majors. Benchmark 4: 90% of faculty teaching introductory courses and laboratories will participate in professional learning communities (PLCs) and make evidence-based changes to their teaching practices. Benchmark 5: 80% of project teams will score above 150 (max=200) on Quesenberry's rubric for measuring success and effectiveness of college student project teams. Benchmark 6: 90% of students will report increased interest in a STEM college major due to participation in summer enrichment activities as evidenced by program evaluations.
To accomplish these goals, LUC will develop research-intensive STEM learning communities (SLCs) for freshmen STEM majors to assist in their transition to college by providing a network of support services and fostering a commitment to reflecting upon their experiences in order to inform life and career choices. These SLCs will take part in ongoing research as part of their second semester freshman seminar course and in a summer research residency following their first year. Of particular interest will be interdisciplinary research that has impact in local communities. PLCs among STEM faculty will focus on deepening knowledge about student learning and evidence-based approaches to increase student persistence, and work to redesign introductory courses and laboratories to better meet the needs of all students.
Additionally, LUC will partner with the CAS-PNNM to engage undergraduates in developing and implementing environmental and sustainability action projects in Chicago's diverse communities. LUC and CAS-PNNM will also partner to enhance the Summer Enrichment at Loyola for Science Technology Engineering & Math program that targets rising high school juniors and seniors, particularly URMs, by incorporating off-site visits to CAS-PNNM and other sites in order to engage with scientists and science educators beyond the university. This program will help students envision themselves in a STEM major at a university and broaden their concept of who scientists are and the types of work they accomplish.