Title III Mini Grant Awardees Winter 2017

In March 2017, two mini grants were awarded. Awardees and projects are as follows:

Title: STEM Inspiration – Microscopes to Increase Student Engagement

Applicant: Alma Meza, Basic Studies Faculty

Amount Awarded: $2,500

Component Addressed: Component 1 – Student Engagement in the Entry Process

Summary of Project: This project will expose basic studies students to science. Too often, science is taught in a computer lab without context or clear connection to its relationship with other disciplines. Teaching science via inquiry involves engaging students in similar processes used by scientists. These processes include: asking questions, making hypotheses, designing investigations, grappling with data, drawing conclusions, redesigning investigations, and building and revising theories. Funds from Title III will be used to purchase digital microscopes and basic lab equipment for basic studies students. Creating a lab environment, this project will introduce students to concepts of magnification and its uses in the study of life at the cellular level. Students will gain a basic understanding of how a microscope works, giving them the experience needed to use this equipment in future lessons.

Title: Student White Board Access

Applicant: Christy Hernandez, Computer Science Faculty

Amount Awarded: $1,210

Component Addressed: Component 2 – Student Retention and Persistence

Summary of Project: This project will create an active learning environment for students enrolled in the computer science program by providing students with desktops that simulate dry erase boards, including availability of dry erase markers and erasers. This project will give students the tools needed to more effectively plan coding before developing the code. Skill in coding is a crucial part of student success and retention in the first year of the computer science program. In 2015-16, (fall, winter and spring), first to second quarter persistence for the PEP cohorts in CSI was 87.3%, the lowest it has been since 2009-10. Additionally, first to third quarter retention dropped from 88.9% in 2014-15 to 78.3%. During the second quarter of the program, two out of three classes, CSI 154 and 156, require extensive coding in C# with more fluency and confidence. The goal of this project is to give students access to quick, hands-on, visual planning spaces before they get to the computer interface. In measuring the impact of the project, increased attempts of assignments, increased success on individual assignments, increased course success rates in coding-heavy CSI classes, and changes in retention will be analyzed.