Icon for: Kasey Powers


Mercy College
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Kasey Powers

    Kasey Powers

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Program Director - Team STEM
    May 14, 2018 | 11:19 a.m.

    Welcome! We are just wrapping up our pilot year. This video is highlighting our hopes and goals for the TPA and WCC STEM Scholars Programs. Mercy College is aiming to increase retention in STEM majors through mentor programs. In our pilot year we had a small number of students. We've found that students enjoy learning about different career paths and opportunities. And when they come to events students tell us that they enjoy them. Getting students to show up and stay engaged has been our biggest struggle. The parts of the program with the most structure are the most effective and we are working to implement similar structure across all parts of the project. We gave all students a baseline survey measuring attitudes about STEM, growth mindset, and self-efficacy. We hope to see increases in these areas over time as well as increased retention rates from year to year.

  • Icon for: Jeanne Century

    Jeanne Century

    DIrector of Research & Evaluation and Research Associate Professor
    May 14, 2018 | 11:40 a.m.

    Hi Kasey - 

    I appreciate that you are sharing your challenges as well as your successes! What are you currently doing to recruit students to "show up?" With so many other things competing for their time, I can imagine it can be difficult. 

    I'm also interested in knowing more about your near-peer mentoring and how you find and train the peers who are mentoring your participants?



  • Icon for: Kasey Powers

    Kasey Powers

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Program Director - Team STEM
    May 15, 2018 | 11:36 a.m.

    We are doing two things we hope to increase engagement.

    For the 2018-2019 academic year we are switching to an opt-out enrollment. Mercy College has a unique program, the Personalized Achievement Contract or PACT. Every incoming student gets a PACT Advisor in their declared major. We are working with PACT to identify eligible students and will assign them a faculty and peer advisor. We are hoping that early contact right when they arrive to campus will increase engagement, where as this past year we sought out students to opt in to the program during their first month on campus.

    The second this we are working on is to increase the structure of the program. We are scheduling all events for the whole year over the summer, so that students will have the dates and times from the start. And we are creating monthly activities that advisors can use in meetings as needed.

    To train peer mentors in these programs we had them attend the same professional development events as the faculty advisors where they learned about advising, meta-cognition, and growth mindset. We have a data analyst on the grant staff who handles data collection and focus groups, her big finding this year was that the peer mentors wanted more training. So for the upcoming year we are modeling the training on the Peer Leader for the third grant activity (not featured in the video). All of the peer mentors will register for a 1 credit Independent Study course. Each week they will complete readings and activities related to mentoring and write blog posts reflecting on their mentoring activity. The weekly contact with Activity Directors will help with oversight and also give the peer mentors a place to ask questions and brainstorm with the other mentors. 

  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    May 15, 2018 | 07:11 a.m.

    I am sure it's an exciting time as you wrap up your pilot year! I was wondering if you record any of the research projects or career path discussions on a website/YouTube.

    (We work with high-school students considering engineering careers, and would love to incorporate resources like your research projects to help show students near-peer models of STEM students.)

    Thanks so much for your important work with the next generation of STEM professionals!

  • Icon for: Kasey Powers

    Kasey Powers

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Program Director - Team STEM
    May 15, 2018 | 11:38 a.m.

    We aren't currently recording or posting anything. But this is in our plans for next year to get some of our events on our website, as well as some of the student research posters.

  • Icon for: Levi Patrick

    Levi Patrick

    Assistant Executive Director
    May 16, 2018 | 06:10 p.m.

    Sounds like a useful program that will help a lot of students see themselves in STEM careers in their future!

    I would love to hear more about the research experiences! How are you designing those and do you have insights on generalizable methods or pedagogies that tend to be more useful than others?

  • Icon for: Anthony K. Canger

    Anthony K. Canger

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2018 | 06:26 p.m.

    The research experiences that students can engage in depend on the particular STEM major but as a Biology faculty, and as a researcher who works with undergraduates  I can speak to what we do in the Department of Natural Sciences at Mercy College in terms of best practices.  By far I see the best of all high impact practices effective engagement in research.

      Course based projects and project based learning models (CURES) are methods we use and see benefits with our students as well.  When students are able to do real sciences and bring their own ideas to the research, the benefits to students are greater.  Project based learning when done right in the context of a class room can be extremely effective , engaging, and fun for students.  See the Buck institute for higher education for further info on project based learning.

  • Icon for: Kasey Powers

    Kasey Powers

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Program Director - Team STEM
    May 17, 2018 | 12:35 p.m.

    The experiences offered are specific to the research interests of the faculty mentors. Faculty submit an application with their project and we select projects across disciplines - in 2017 we had three project, in 2018 we will have six, two each in biology and psychology, one computer science and one cybersecurity. The projects are designed to be something that the students will be able to complete in four weeks. Some, like the psychology project will be ongoing, but students will be able to complete their piece of the project and potentially continue in the fall. As mentioned in Anthony's comment, one key piece is that the projects are authentic research projects designed to answer real questions which we find an effective way to keep students engaged in research.

  • Icon for: Pablo Bendiksen

    Pablo Bendiksen

    Research Assistant
    May 17, 2018 | 01:43 p.m.


    Thank you for sharing about Team STEM.

    I like hearing about Mentor models that foster growth mindsets and research skills. It is the student relatability to mentors that I find to be key, here. As another extension for pragmatic exposure to STEM studies and pathways, I like hearing about student exposure to research by older students. My concern however is that these students may feel overwhelmed or otherwise unprepared to engage with the research of college students, thereby decreasing their confidence in doing STEM. Does Team STEM take any measures to consider the content of the college-level research and the knowledge set of the high school students?

  • Icon for: Kasey Powers

    Kasey Powers

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Program Director - Team STEM
    May 17, 2018 | 01:54 p.m.

    This program is for college students. While we host a high school outreach each year with workshops in different STEM disciplines, the main focus of the programs are near-peer mentoring. In TPA we have upper level students mentoring Mercy College Freshman along with PACT and faculty advisors. In the STEM Scholars program we have upper level Mercy College Students mentoring Westchester Community College students. The WCC students attend the research academy after their first year of community college. In this first year we were unable to hold workshops during the academic year, but moving forward into next year we plan to host workshops teaching basic research skills. Along with the peer mentors sharing about their research experiences hopefully demystifying the research process to give the community college students confidence that they can do research too.

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