Friday, February 12, 2016

Improving Rates of Success in STEM Fields

What would it take to dramatically improve the success rates of non-traditional students in STEM fields? One answer is a holistic, multifaceted approach that re-imagines every facet of the learning experience, from curriculum design to pedagogy, assessments, and support services. Without compromising standards or rigor, this new model pulls multiple levers known to improve student success. A prototype program – a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences -- launched in Fall 2015 at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which serves the poorest and third poorest counties in the United States in one of the country’s fastest growing regions. Almost all students in the BMed program work full-time. Many also carry substantial caregiving responsibilities. Over twenty percent speak English as a second language and over ten percent are off the grid, lacking cellphone and Internet connectivity. Texas’s Lower Rio Grande Valley has an urgent need for health professionals. The nation averages about 240 doctors for every 100,000 inhabitants. In Texas, the figure is 170, and in the Rio Grande Valley, just 107. There are similar shortages of nurses and other health care providers. What elements define this prototype program?

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