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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  3. This Complete Evidence-based Practice paper will describe how three different public urban research universities designed, executed, and iterated Summer Bridge programming for a subset of incoming first-year engineering students over the course of three consecutive years. There were commonalities between each institution’s Summer Bridge, as well as unique aspects catering to the specific needs and structures of each institution. Both these commonalities and unique aspects will be discussed, in addition to the processes of iteration and improvement, target student populations, and reported student outcomes. Finally, recommendations for other institutions seeking to launch or refine similar programming will be shared. Summer Bridge programming at each of the three institutions shared certain communalities. Mostly notably, each of the three institutions developed its Summer Bridge as an additional way to provide support for students receiving an NSF S-STEM scholarship. The purpose of each Summer Bridge was to build community among these students, prepare them for the academic rigor of first-year engineering curriculum, and edify their STEM identity and sense of belonging. Each Summer Bridge was a 3-5 day experience held in the week immediately prior to the start of the Fall semester. In addition to these communalities, each Summer Bridge also had its own unique features. At the first institution, Summer Bridge is focused on increasing college readiness through the transition from summer break into impending coursework. This institution’s Summer Bridge includes STEM special-interest presentations (such as biomedical or electrical engineering) and other development activities (such as communication and growth mindset workshops). Additionally, this institution’s Summer Bridge continues into the fall semester via a 1-credit hour First Year Seminar class, which builds and reinforces student networking and community beyond the summer experience. At the second institution, all students receiving the NSF S-STEM scholarship (not only those who are first-year students) participate in Summer Bridge. This means that S-STEM scholars at this institution participate in Summer Bridge multiple years in a row. Relatedly, after the first year, Summer Bridge transitioned to a student-led and student-delivered program, affording sophomore and junior students leadership opportunities, which not only serve as marketable experience after graduation, but also further builds their sense of STEM identity and belonging. At the third institution, a special focus was given to building community. This was achieved through several means. First, each day of Summer Bridge included a unique team-oriented design challenge where students got to work together and know each other within an engineering context, also reinforcing their STEM identities. Second, students at this institution’s Summer Bridge met their future instructors in an informal, conversational, lunch setting; many students reported this was one of their favorite aspects of Summer Bridge. Finally, Summer Bridge facilitated a first connect between incoming first-year students and their peer mentors (sophomore and junior students also receiving the NSF S-STEM scholarship), with whom they would meet regularly throughout the following fall and spring semesters. Each of the three institutions employed processes of iteration and improvement for their Summer Bridge programming over the course of two or three consecutive years. Through each version and iteration of Summer Bridge, positive student outcomes are demonstrated, including direct student feedback indicating built community among students and the perception that their time spent during Summer Bridge was valuable. Based on the experiences of these three institutions, as well as research on other institutions’ Summer Bridge programming, recommendations for those seeking to launch or refine similar Summer Bridge programming will also be shared. 
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  4. Launched three years ago, the Urban STEM Collaboratory is a an NSF-funded S-STEM program at three public urban research universities. With the first student scholarships awarded in Fall 2019, each campus has observed positive student outcomes even despite the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goals of the program include: to award scholarships to academically talented and financially needy undergraduate mathematical science and engineering majors; to implement student activities and supports designed to increase student success, attitudes, workforce readiness, and STEM self-efficacy; and to ensure substantial student participation in project activities through a special Badge system incentivizing participation. While the three campuses shared some aspects of the program, each campus also had unique aspects. Among the more notable campus-specific aspects of the Urban STEM Collaboratory are the use of peer-led team learning (PLTL) at one campus, a STEM ambassador program at another campus, and a robust layered peer mentorship program at the other campus. Additionally, each campus funds students for different periods of time (2 years, 3 years, or 4 years), resulting in varying student cohort sizes among campuses. Despite these unique aspects, each campus has experienced program success as measured through quantitative and qualitative student outcomes. Further, program participants (both students and faculty) from across all three campuses engage with each other regularly using virtual online platforms, creating a unique cross-campus community. This poster will report on the current state of the Urban STEM Collaboratory, including findings from all three campuses from the first three years of the S-STEM grant. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Education and psychology research has established STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) identities as an important factor in explaining student persistence in STEM fields. Few studies in social psychology of language or communication have investigated STEM identities, despite the fundamentally communicative nature of identity. Identity talk produced in semi-structured interviews with undergraduate engineering majors ( N = 16) at three U.S. universities was analyzed qualitatively using the Communication Theory of Identity (CTI) as a sensitizing framework. The analysis showed that these students’ STEM identities emphasized personal attributes such as work ethic and a desire to make a positive difference in the world as well as relationships with peers in engineering. A number of potential identity gaps which might present barriers to forming a STEM identity were also evident in the data. These results underscore the importance of a communicative (interactive and relational) perspective in understanding students’ development and expression of STEM identities. 
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  8. The Urban STEM Collaboratory is a tri-institution collaboration of (school 1), (school 2), and (school 3). Each of the three partner universities is embedded in a large city, and serve similar student populations, i.e. students who tend to be first generation, minorities, older, and/or commuting to campus. These universities encounter similar challenges in first-year retention and graduation rates, especially in the STEM disciplines. As they strive to improve the first year engineering and/or mathematics student experience at their campuses, they have engaged in different approaches; including Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL), formation of an Engineering Learning Community (ELC), and engaging students in outreach as STEM Ambassadors. Incorporating these individual strengths with new activities that will be shared across institutions, the team is currently embarking on a multi-year research project to uncover how students develop STEM identity in an urban context, identify interventions that support this development, and determine the impact that STEM identity has on student success. Through the support of an NSF S-STEM grant, the three universities are also providing scholarships to students engaged in the project. Here, we share the initial efforts of our tri-campus interaction and collaboration, our overarching goals, our systems of recruiting students, and our initial collection of preliminary data and findings for Year 1. 
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  9. This completely evidence-based paper focuses on the impact of the “Engineering Learning Community” on the retention rate of the first-year students. The Engineering Learning Community (ELC) was launched in 2016 and works to increase student collaboration from day one, and to increase interest in engineering through an introductory design course for first year freshman students. ELC students not only take this design course but are matriculated into common first year Math and English courses. These attributes are thought to enhance the student’s ability to overcome the hurdles of their first year and improve their interest in completing a four-year degree at the Engineering College. Since then, three cohorts of ELC students have been observed through the lens of retention, and this study is intended to show how the ELC is affiliated with retention. The results from this study indicate that first year GPA is strongly related to first year retention at the Engineering College, and that students participating in the ELC are observed to have a higher GPA at the end of their first year when compared to the rest of the students in the Engineering College. In addition, interviews with ELC members further demonstrate the influence of a cohort-style learning community on first-year students’ experiences in higher education. 
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