Alma College

STEM Commitments [White House Summit on College Opportunity, Dec. 2014]

GOAL: Alma College intends to increase the number of declared science majors by 33 percent over five years, providing at least an additional 350 STEM students.

ACTION PLAN: Alma College is making a commitment to enroll and graduate more low-income and underrepresented STEM students. Building on a relationship established with Detroit’s Michigan Future Schools as a result of January’s White House College Opportunity Summit, Alma is focusing its efforts on Detroit and Michigan’s Gratiot County.

The College recently received a grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation for the purpose of improving STEM 82 education in Michigan. Alma intends to strengthen student interest in STEM fields by enhancing opportunities at the College and K-12 schools to engage in STEM research. For example, Alma College will sponsor summer cooperative research experiences for K-12 teachers, including side-by-side research with Alma faculty as well as time to design K-12-level projects that will be field tested in summer camps for K-12 students on campus at Alma. Each summer, the college plans to involve 25 elementary, 75 middle and high school students, 15 K-12 teachers, and 10 college students in these opportunities.

Increasing the number of students who enroll in STEM college programs will only be significant if these students persist to graduation. Alma is actively pursuing mechanisms to expand the Positive Routes into Science and Mathematics (PRISM) program. This e-PRSIM (“extending” PRISM) program will increase the number and quality of STEM graduates by incorporating inquiry-based learning in the classroom beginning in first-year courses, providing opportunities for early undergraduate research, offering research mentor activities, and an articulation agreement to facilitate easy transfer from a local community college. Science graduates had been on the decline at Alma College prior to establishing the PRISM program and already, declared science majors have increased by nearly 50 percent since 2008. With the extension of the PRISM program Alma College hopes to increase the number of declared science majors from 33 percent in the next five years. 

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