1. Jessica Chapman
  2. Associate Professor of Statistics
  3. The Liberal Arts Science Scholars Program: Providing Scholarships and Support to Increase Diversity in the Next Generation of Scientists
  4. St. Lawrence University
  1. Jeff Chiarenzelli
  2. Professor of Geology
  3. The Liberal Arts Science Scholars Program: Providing Scholarships and Support to Increase Diversity in the Next Generation of Scientists
  4. St. Lawrence University
  1. Adam Hill
  2. Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  3. The Liberal Arts Science Scholars Program: Providing Scholarships and Support to Increase Diversity in the Next Generation of Scientists
  4. St. Lawrence University
  1. Judith Nagel-Myers
  2. Assistant Professor of Geology
  3. The Liberal Arts Science Scholars Program: Providing Scholarships and Support to Increase Diversity in the Next Generation of Scientists
  4. St. Lawrence University
  1. Ivan Ramler
  2. Associate Professor of Statistics
  3. The Liberal Arts Science Scholars Program: Providing Scholarships and Support to Increase Diversity in the Next Generation of Scientists
  4. St. Lawrence University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 09:37 a.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video presentation about the Liberal Arts Science (LAS) Scholars Program, an NSF-funded Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM) project, at St. Lawrence University! Other program components not mentioned in the video included a program orientation that allowed Scholars to become acquainted with one another and the program faculty while exploring campus and the region; a significant faculty mentoring component; and a peer mentoring component (which was not as effective as we had hoped).

    We would love to answer any questions you may have about our program's components or about our program's successes or challenges. We would also be interested in discussions about how the courses described in this video could be adapted to fit your needs. We welcome any other questions/feedback as well!

    Thank you for participating in the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase!
    The LAS Scholars Faculty Team

  • May 13, 2018 | 10:17 p.m.

    Great work!  As someone who has integrated math/statistics with poetrysong, and mindfuless, I couldn't agree more with the idea of a liberal arts science scholar and I greatly enjoyed collaborating with my campus colleagues in the music department with my NSF project

  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:54 a.m.

    Thanks for the kind words, Lawrence! I too enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues across campus whose interests and skill sets differ from my own. It's been highly beneficial for the students too! I especially love when they make those realizations themselves (e.g., the featured student who talks about the important intersection of art and science)!

    As a side note, I have an advisee who is a Statistics major and Music minor who will be working on a capstone project with me next year!

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:56 p.m.

    Thank you for preparing this video! I also was on the faculty at a small liberal arts college in New England before taking my current position at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in DC. Viewers may be interested to know that on May 7 the National Academies released a new report that provides information about the evidence base for integrating STEMM (the second M is for the Medical Sciences), with the humanities and arts at the undergraduate and graduate levels and how students in all of these disciplines can benefit by studying more deeply in the other areas. Here's the citation:

    National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education:Branches from the Same Tree. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988. The report, currently available as a pre-pub, can be downloaded without cost.

    My primary question for the presenters is one that has challenged institutions for a long time. If you have compelling evidence that this program is working, what will it take to make the features of this program available to a much larger segment of students on your campus? The primary restriction is almost always money. So how do we change the priorities at a campus to invest more time, money, and other human resources and capital so that most if not all students can benefit?

    My second question is how students are recruited to the program. How do they learn about it? Are you attempting to identify students from populations that have been historically underrepresented in STEM or in specific disciplines (e.g., women in physics or computer sciences)?

    Finally, you report very encouraging success rates overall. Are you finding and differences in success when your data are disaggregated by gender, ethnicity, first generation, etc.?

    Thank you again for making information about this program more widely available!

  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:21 p.m.

    First, thanks for sharing this very interesting resource with us! I've scanned through the report's recommendations, and they are fascinating (and validating!)!

     

    You raise an important, and challenging, point in your first question. Institutionalization can be a tricky, and as you point out, resource driven, question. There are a few ways in which I suspect our institution may be able to keep features of this program going. First, we believe much of our success can be attributed to the significant interactions the Scholars had with St. Lawrence STEM faculty through the courses described and through the mentoring aspect of the program. The First Year Program (FYP) at St. Lawrence is a natural place to incorporate what we've learned from our S-STEM program, though at present it offers relatively few options for students interested in STEM and has generally low participation from STEM faculty members. Getting more STEM faculty into our FYP would create more opportunities for students to interact with potential STEM mentors outside of the large introductory courses and provide more options for interdisciplinary STEM exposure. The statistics course described in our video is an example of a second semester FYP course that we think could serve as a model to get other STEM faculty involved; it will also be taught whenever I am able to do so! Additionally, the university has undertaken as a major initiative improving student experience in the sophomore year. We have been able to share our program’s findings with the coordinators of that project and participate in discussions about how to recreate those findings (most especially the high sense of belonging and scientific identity expressed by our Scholars) on a broader scale. These collaborations and conversations are ongoing. Finally, our institution is in the early phases of a major comprehensive campaign, part of which will include funding for scholarships.

     

    We received our current S-STEM award at a time when awards were made in March, which meant we were not able to recruit as actively as we would have liked and our pool of applicants needed to be identified from those students who had already been accepted to St. Lawrence. We worked closely with our office of Admissions and Financial Aid to identify eligible students (those eligible for Pell grants and interested any STEM field represented at St. Lawrence).  We communicated with those students about the program and encouraged them to apply by writing a short essay focused their choice of one of several prompts, such as “Describe an event or experience that led you to be interested in STEM,” “Describe an aspect of STEM (a field, experiment, famous scientist, equation, etc.) that fascinates you,” or “What are your career interests in STEM?”. This open-ended question allowed each applicant to express engagement with and passion for any STEM field and allowed the selection committee to decipher how each individual might benefit from the program and contribute positively to the program and their fellow LAS Scholars’ experiences. S-STEM faculty members attended admissions open houses to meet potential applicants and their families and to answer questions about the program. From those who applied, we looked for those with the greatest engagement with and enthusiasm for STEM (as gauged by the essay), with especial consideration given to those from backgrounds historically underrepresented in STEM (racial/ethnic minorities, women, and first generation). Because our applicants were coming from the pool of students who had already been accepted to St. Lawrence, our cohorts of Scholars tend to be comprised of women (over 70%) and first generation college students (almost 50%). We have recently submitted an application for more S-STEM funding, and if awarded (notification will be early fall), we will be able to actively recruit for the program. We will in particular emphasize local schools (St. Lawrence County is very rural and is one of the poorest counties in New York State). This means we would likely continue to have high representation from first generation college students.

     

    Finally, it’s a little early to tell, but so far retention has been higher among female Scholars and among first generation Scholars.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Danielle Watt
  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 10:53 a.m.

    Thank you! This is a very detailed response to my questions. As for thinking about sustainability, I'm a big fan of the concept of "enlightened self-interest," i.e., getting others to support your work because they are made to see the benefits for themselves in doing so. Too often busy people are asked to commit to yet another activity that will cost them time, money, loss of time at home with family, etc. When they can be made to understand how they will gain from participating, then it becomes much easier for them to commit. But the coin of the realm is different for different stakeholders, so listening carefully to them about their challenges and addressing them specifically can go a long way toward getting the funds and human capital to continue a program.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jessica Chapman
  • Icon for: Danielle Watt

    Danielle Watt

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 05:46 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing you program! I really appreciate the focus on the intersection of arts and science. Could you elaborate on the challenges with the peer mentoring component and how will you address them moving forward?

  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 08:01 a.m.

    Hi Danielle! Certainly!

    In the first year of the program, we matched our Scholars will a successful upperclassman in their STEM field (and tried to match gender if possible). The Scholars initially met with their peer mentors in one of the meetings of the Scientific Discovery course (described in the video), and meetings were encouraged outside of the course for the rest of the semester. Those fizzled out as the peer mentors (many of whom were seniors) got busy with their own work. Many Scholars mentioned initial excitement about the peer mentors, but ultimately didn't find it beneficial. We were optimistic with the second cohort of Scholars, because many Scholars from the first cohort expressed interest and excitement about being peer mentors. Unfortunately, much the same thing happened. Going forward, we need to not rely on the Scholars and mentors to regularly arrange meetings on their own. Instead, we will try have more informal gatherings where the cohorts get together and the Scholars can meet with their peer mentor.

    All of that said, the Scholars were not lacking for mentors. Everyone had a faculty mentor from the program with whom they met regularly during the first year and early part of the second year. After that, they transitioned to a faculty mentor in their major, though in many cases Scholars did continue to meet with their LAS Scholars program faculty mentor on occasion.

    I hope that answers your questions! Please let me know if you have any others!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Danielle Watt
  • Icon for: Whitney Erby

    Whitney Erby

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 08:26 p.m.

    Thank you for presenting your program! It is very clear how you help support students financially. Could you talk a little bit more about the other supports you have available to students? 

  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 08:34 a.m.

    Hi Whitney! I would definitely love to tell you more about the program supports.

    First was a program orientation, which was our first step in building a sense of belonging and community amongst the Scholars. The Scholars were allowed to move in to their rooms a few days prior to the rest of the first year class. While they were moving in, another program faculty member and I met with nearly every Scholar and their family (some, for example, moved in even earlier for sports teams, so we didn’t get to meet their family). From our initial evaluator’s report, “many of the students mentioned that the welcome to campus for the orientation by Drs. Chapman and Ramler made the transition much less intimidating.” The orientation activities provided many opportunities for the Scholars to bond with one another and the program’s faculty mentors. Orientation activities included opening dinner with the program faculty, hiking in the Adirondacks, a St. Lawrence River cruise (first cohort), and kayaking (second cohort). Many students commented that the ability to move in early and become familiar with campus prior to the arrival of the rest of the first year class put them at ease. Someone described feeling like “one of the cool kids” because they were able to help the new arrivals find their way around campus.

    Every Scholar was assigned a faculty mentor from the program team. Initial contact with faculty mentors occurred several weeks prior to Scholars’ arrival on campus when Scholars met with the mentor virtually to register for fall courses. Once the fall semester began, Scholars met regularly with their faculty mentor. This allowed the faculty mentor to keep an eye on the Scholar’s academic performance and connect them with academic support resources if necessary. In most cases, it was not, as Scholars have had a higher average GPA than relevant STEM comparison groups in most semesters. Additionally, Scholars took the program’s two first year courses, both taught by program faculty, as a cohort. This ensured that the Scholars were together with their cohort at least once per week, and continued the community building that began with the program orientation.

    In the first semester, we implemented course “clusters” so that Scholars would be guaranteed to have someone they knew (with whom they would ideally study) in their class. This would also ensure that the Scholars had different, but overlapping, social networks, which we believed would help them to find where they “belonged.” Scholars were in an FYP with at least one other person from the program, and they had another course cluster. In the first year of the program, Scholars were clustered into sections of general chemistry, general biology, and an introductory geology course. In the second year, because of smaller cohort size and more similar interests, they were all clustered into the same section of general chemistry. We learned from this process that lots of small clusters were better than a small number of large clusters. Scholars from the second cohort expressed feeling more “isolated” from the rest of campus than Scholars from the initial cohort.

    We attempted a peer mentoring component (described in response to Danielle Watt’s question), but the experience was uneven for many Scholars and we need to find ways to continue that more informally more effectively.

    I hope that answers your question! Please let me know if you have any others! I would love to answer them!

  • May 17, 2018 | 06:15 a.m.

     Hi Jessica, 

    Great work!  I am glad to see some NSF STEM support at a small liberal arts college.  I went to a small liberal arts college, Eckerd College, for my undergraduate training and feel that the STEM education that I received was much better than that offered at a larger institution.  We researched the literature as part of our laboratory reports, we had the opportunity to design and engage in research, and we were in smaller classrooms and engaged with the faculty.  Eckerd seniors take a comprehensive exam over their major that provides an avenue for the integration of learning.  As a student I dreaded the idea of this exam, but the extended preparation and focus was a tremendous capstone experience in the end.   What type of capstone experience do you have at your institution? 

  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 10:15 a.m.

    Hello Melissa!

    Wow! A comprehensive exam over the major! I would have hated that as a student, but being on the other side now, I see the benefit (especially given the push to up the assessment game by accrediting agencies!).

    At St. Lawrence we offer a Senior Year Experience (SYE) where students work on a research project with a faculty mentor. It is required by most majors (though in recent years, majors that have experienced significant growth only require them for students who wish to graduate with "honors"). This capstone experience usually concludes some form of public presentation. Our Scholars who have already begun mentored independent research projects will likely continue that work through their senior year as their capstone experience (resulting in a much more expansive and sophisticated project). We hope to see their work highlighted as our university's annual "Festival of Science."

  • Icon for: Kris Morrissey

    Kris Morrissey

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2018 | 11:36 a.m.

    I was intrigued with the comments on the video about how liberal arts can promote thinking skills and logic, so critical today (OK, always!). I'm on a research team developing a framework of competencies for individuals who work on informal STEM institutions and have had a lot of discussions about creative and analytical thinking skills. Your video gave me some ideas and renewed my appreciation for the liberal arts.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jessica Chapman
  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 09:37 a.m.

    Hi Kris! Thank you so much for your feedback! I do hope that you found the video helpful! We are so very proud of these students and what they have accomplished!

  • Icon for: Rachel Yim

    Rachel Yim

    Researcher
    May 21, 2018 | 11:15 a.m.

    Great video! Have you seen improvement in the Scholars' performance in the courses they take outside of their majors compared to other students in STEM? One of the things I appreciated most about my liberal arts undergraduate experience was the integration of what I was learning in my STEM courses with my other coursework and vice versa. 

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jessica Chapman
  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 11:39 a.m.

    Hi Rachel! Thanks for checking out our video!

    We've not broken down the comparison by STEM and non-STEM courses, but we have great data comparing semester GPA for our Scholars to three different peer groups by class year (1 = SLU STEM students who are eligible for our program but not in it; 2 = SLU STEM students not eligible for the program; and 3 = remainder of the corresponding class). In most semesters our Scholars' average GPAs have been higher than all of the other peer groups! (We're currently working on a paper about our S-STEM program that will contain that info; there's not a convenient way to paste that table into this discussion).

    All of the Scholars have declared at least one STEM major, but they are definitely taking courses in a variety of different fields. We know that because several Scholars have declared a second (non-STEM) major and/or a minor. Second non-STEM majors include Psychology, Multi-languages, and Art-Art History. Minors include Psychology, Gender Studies, and Sports Studies and Exercise Science. Additionally, three Scholars are pursuing Education Certification minors, which will lead to teaching certification in New York State.

    The data we have definitely suggests that our Scholars are excelling across the curriculum at St. Lawrence! We are so proud of them!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.