Effective Strategies for Retaining Low-Income and First-to-College Students in STEM: Lessons from a Biology Scholars Program (BSP) Course

September 20, 2018, 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Intended audience: 
Academic Support Staff, Faculty, Graduate Students

Many intended majors leave STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines in their first year of college, discouraged by their experiences in lower division pre-requisite courses. How can we better understand this phenomenon and create interventions to encourage students, particularly from underrepresented and marginalized groups, to continue and be successful? What can we learn from existing campus programs that have proven effective?

A cornerstone of the Biology Scholars Program is MCB15 (“Public Engagement with Science”), a required course designed around factors known to increase student retention and success (Estrada et al., 2016; Harackiewicz et al., 2016; Thoman et al, 2014). MCB15 helps students:

  • Make connections between science and their daily lives
  • Understand the history and culture of science
  • Effectively communicate science that makes a difference to a community they care about

Come hear the MCB15 team share their experience and lessons learned, then join in a discussion about how to improve retention and student success in other lower-division major courses and STEM fields. Lunch will be provided.

Workshop Format

  • FIrst hour: Dax Ovid (a seasoned GSI for the course), John Matsui (BSP director and course instructor), and an undergraduate who has taken the course will identify features of MCB 15 known to increase student retention and success (e.g., science identity, efficacy, relevance, and social value).
  • Second hour: Explore two rubrics (the “BSP Way” and “Ladder of Abstraction”) that will help you integrate these features into your lower-division major requirement courses.

Kindly RSVP by September 15, 2018, so we can make arrangements for lunch and ensure space for everyone.

If you have questions about BSP or other topics in this series, please contact biology_scholars@berkeley.edu.


Registration is unavailable. Registration closed on September 19, 2018 - 5:00pm.


Biology Scholars Program (BSP)

Series description

For more than 25 years, the Biology Scholars Program (BSP) has challenged ideas about who can succeed in science, by providing a supportive environment tailored to the needs of students from underresourced communities. The program has produced more than 3,500 biology graduates (80% URM)--many of whom have gone on to advanced study and/or successful careers in STEM-related fields.

Through this limited workshop series (taking place over Fall 2018 and Spring 2019), we hope to share insights, strategies, and research gleaned from BSP to spark discussion and the exchange of ideas among our Berkeley colleagues towards improving retention and outcomes for underrepresented students in STEM courses, majors, and related careers.

Future topics and dates to be announced.