STEM Digital Village
Background and Concept
The overall goal of the LINC project was to increase the number of STEM students that completed their degree in a STEM discipline, and increase the number of graduates who elect to attend graduate school. Experience in teaching underserved students taught us that the success we achieved was due, in part, to the hands-on nurturing necessary to retain and influence program participants. LU STEM faculty had to adjust to the reality of who our students and LINC scholars are, and what influences their behavior and decisions. Many are first generation college students who don’t get a lot of encouragement from their family and friends to attend graduate school. Reaction from the home front is generally quite the opposite; family want their children to get a degree and go to work so they can help out financially.
LU STEM faculty soon discovered that the role of motivator and source of inspiration and encouragement falls on them if the LU and NSF goals were to be achieved. Experience taught us that our students do not easily or quickly comply with application deadlines, queries about graduate school access was not at the top of their “to do” list. Research internship opportunities were not a natural part of their dialogue. Students were not readily compliant with many other administrative duties that support success. When nurtured, however, their brilliance and capabilities become evident. Although faculty and staff might grumble that assisting these otherwise bright, talented young people should not be necessary, all realized that we are in the process of creating a mindshift – a process that requires patience, perseverance, and dedication.
Desired consequences notwithstanding, the follow up and follow through to change student culture were, and are, daunting. Beyond the time constraints, STEM faculty needed to expand the numbers of its potential pool of LINC participants. An excellent resource was already on campus; faculty had to make time to recruit them and provide the necessary support for their success.
At the time the discussion was taking place, Langston had 280 STEM students, and 40% of them had a 3.00 GPA or above.
Our solution was to reach out to our network of industry partners and get their assistance in developing a trial digital solution that could assist with easing the administrative “information” burden, expand our pool of credible mentors, expand our impact on LU STEM scholars who were not directly involved in LINC, and create an exciting, informative, online space that appealed to the generation reflected in the student population. The Digital Village, as we conceived it, seemed poised to accomplish all these things.
SDV began slowly. Content and context were a trial and error experience. As current and graduating STEM scholars became involved, the format took form, and continues to evolve.
For additional information, contact Dr. John K. Coleman by completing the form below.
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