Computation, Retention, STEM
Adam Salminen, Kettering University
The CiSM program seeks to improve STEM student retention by introducing students to computation and data-science skills from the start of their education.
The Computers in Science and Math (CiSM) Program at the University of Evansville is an NSF S-STEM supported scholarship program seeking to increase the number of STEM graduates by enhancing their traditional coursework through the introduction of data literacy and computing skills beyond the scope of their “normal” major. Preliminary assessment, while limited in statistical power due to small cohort sizes, has shown positive impacts on students’ attitudes towards STEM disciplines and their appreciation of how computing science intersects with their career paths. The program, its components, and challenges to implementation, as well as its preliminary results, will be discussed.
Connect the ideas to course offerings at their institution.
Consider implementation of similar programming.
Connect with colleagues interested in similar ideas.
Hear it from the author:
The Computers in Science and Math Program (CiSM) is an NSF S-STEM funded scholarship program at
the University of Evansville. The goal of the program is to increase the number of STEM majors. In
particular, we are interested in problems with persistence. Our program is open to students at the
University of Evansville majoring in biology, chemistry, bio-chemistry, mathematics, data science and
The program seeks to build a learning community. The students make connections with upper classmen
and learn to lean on each other for support. We do this, through social activities, taking time to reflect
on their education during our core program courses, and attending career colloquiums. The core
program courses are a pair of classes designed to introduce students to basic data science and coding
In addition to these coding classes, students will take a common set of basic science courses. This allows
all students to have a common language with which to communicate. The work culminates in a
ChangeLab course where they use their skills to help a business or non-profit with a real-world project.
The goal is create a more workforce-ready student, who has a flexible skill set. COVID and staffing
presented many challenges, but students have shown a, self-reported, positive impact on their attitude
towards STEM and their appreciation of how data science skills intersect with their intended career.
Students leave the program with a CiSM certificate.
Qualls, J. A., & Sherrell, L. B. (2010) Why computational thinking should be integrated into the curriculum. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 25(5), 66–71.
Sithole, A., Chiyaka, E. T., McCarty, P., Mupinga, D. M., Bucklein, B. K., & Kibirige, J. (2017) Student attraction, persistence and etention in STEM programs: Successes and continuing challenges. Higher Education Studies, 7(1):46. https://doi.org/10.5539/hes.v7n1p46