The National Science Foundation recently awarded Foothill College a five-year grant for more than $900,000 for its STEMWay Program.
Foothill is one of 22 two- and four-year colleges in the U.S. to receive the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Talent Expansion Program grant this year. The foundation approved only 10 percent of the proposals submitted for the grant, according to the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education.
Foothill’s STEMWay Program is designed to increase the graduation rates of students at two-year colleges and universities. The program combines four key elements consistent with student success: academic support services that closely parallel STEM courses and pathways; analytical management to enable comprehensive support with limited resources; comprehensive mentoring services for progressive student success within an active learning community; and continual involvement by all STEM faculty members for collaborative improvement.
STEMWay is a testable model of intensive intervention based on a theory of student retention proposed by pedagogy theorists Vincent Tinto and Alan Seidman. Foothill College math instructors Lori Silverman, Ph.D., and Ion Georgiou, Ph.D., will serve as the principal faculty investigators throughout the duration of the five-year grant. A major goal is to share best instructional practices, research and findings from Foothill College with college and university faculties and other STEM professionals at special sessions of national meetings of professional societies.
STEMWay should increase the number of Foothill College graduates who complete associate degrees better prepared to succeed academically when they transfer and engage in STEM-related studies at four-year colleges and universities and subsequently pursue careers in Silicon Valley, according to Silverman and Georgiou.
“As more Foothill College graduates who received comprehensive STEM education and are prepared to succeed in higher-level STEM courses advance to the next level of instruction and earn baccalaureate degrees at local universities or are hired by Silicon Valley employers … we will see an immediate benefit to the local community,” said Foothill College President Judy C. Miner.
STEMWay applies a “scaffolding” model that includes readiness assessment that improves the placement of students into appropriate courses, identifies knowledge gaps and provides additional instruction to give students the necessary skills for success.
The project’s initial target is the graduation of 482 additional students – a 95 percent increase – in a two-year mathematics progression.