Creating a Peer-Led Cooperative Learning Program to Improve STEM Retention

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The importance of high-tech careers has risen as the international competitiveness of U.S. students on tests of science and math has declined. The problem is compounded by a persistent inequity in STEM participation and achievement in the US across gender and racial and ethnic groups. Bridgewater State University's Student Retention Enhancement Across Mathematics and Science (STREAMS) program has instituted simultaneous, structural changes across every introductory science and mathematics course. These changes include a required peer-led cooperative-learning program that attaches learning supports to an interconnected series of gateway science and math courses in order to improve retention in the STEM majors. The diversity of models selected by the five departments in the STREAMS program was one of the strengths of the implementation. Nearly all of the supported courses have significantly fewer D, F, or W grades, and an additional 30 STEM majors were retained after two years across the five departments—a growth of about 25 percent. However, the program had only modest impacts on closing the opportunity gaps for low-income students and students of color.

Original Citation

Kling, T.P. & Salomone, M. (2015). Creating a Peer-Led Cooperative Learning Program to Improve STEM Retention. Change, 47(6), 42-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2015.1089758