An Understanding of the Improved Grades, Retention and Graduation Rates of STEM Majors at the Academic Investment in Math and Science (AIMS) Program of Bowling Green State University (BGSU)

T. Carter Gilmer

Abstract


The Bowling Green State University Academic Investment in Math and Science (BGSU AIMS) program was founded in 2001. This 4-year undergraduate program has grown from one class with 10 inaugural members to four classes with 69 members majoring in science/technology/engineering/math (STEM)-based areas. Average grade point averages (GPA?s) of the AIMS students are ca. 3.0 after the first semester. After seven semesters, the AIMS 2002 cohort had retained its GPA at 3.0, whereas a BGSU control group had an average GPA of ca. 2.5 after semester-1 and that 2.5 average GPA was only slightly changed in the following six semesters. Retention of AIMS students at the University and in the STEM fields has been outstanding? retaining ca. 93% of the 2002-2004 cohorts after the first year, and 89% of the 2002 cohort after 3-1/2 years. Normally, year-1 is the year of greatest attrition. Based upon National Science Foundation (NSF) data, a contrast exists between first-year retentions of 93% for AIMS 2002-2004 cohorts and 60-65% for STEM majors at the national level. Several 4-year program components contribute to this success, but early campus acclimation through a 5-week Summer Bridge Program is critical. More specifically, knowledge of math, emphasized during the summer, correlated with improved overall GPA?s for the fall semester. Educators should increase their emphasis on early success to freshmen and better connections to influence them to work harder, succeed in their first semester and, more specifically, succeed on the first set of exams. A balance of activities through the four years in college must be in place to sustain positive momentum and facilitate commendable progress toward graduating.

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JSTEM. ISSN: 1557-5284