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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences




Over the last several decades, Emerging Scholars Programs (ESPs) have incorporated active learning strategies and challenging problems into collegiate mathematics, resulting in students, underrepresented minority (URM) students in particular, earning at least half of a letter grade higher than other students in Calculus. In 2009, West Virginia University (WVU) adapted ESP models for use in Calculus I in an effort to support the success and retention of URM STEM students by embedding group and inquiry-based learning into a designated section of Calculus I. Seats in the class were reserved for URM and first- generation students. We anticipated that supporting students in courses in the calculus sequence, including Calculus I, would support URM Calculus I students in building learning communities and serve as a mechanism to provide a strong foundation for long-term retention. In this study we analyze the success of students that have progressed through our ESP Calculus courses and compare them to their non-ESP counterparts. Results show that ESP URM students succeed in the Calculus sequence at substantially higher rates than URM students in non-ESP sections of Calculus courses in the sequence (81% of URM students pass ESP Calculus I while only 50% of URM students pass non-ESP Calculus I). In addition, ESP URM and ESP non-URM (first-generation but not URM) students succeed at similar levels in the ESP Calculus sequence of courses (81% of URM students and 82% of non-URM students pass ESP Calculus I). Finally, ESP URM students’ one-year retention rates are similar to those of ESP non-URM students and significantly higher than those of URM students in non-ESP sections of Calculus (92% of ESP URM Calculus I students were retained after one year, while only 83% of URM non-ESP Calculus I students were retained). These results suggest that ESP is ideally suited for retaining and graduating URM STEM majors, helping them overcome obstacles and barriers in STEM, and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Calculus.

Source Citation

Miller D, Deshler J, McEldowney T, Stewart J, Fuller E, Pascal M and Michaluk L (2021) Supporting Student Success and Persistence in STEM With Active Learning Approaches in Emerging Scholars Classrooms. Front. Educ. 6:667918. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.667918


Copyright © 2021 Miller, Deshler, McEldowney, Stewart, Fuller, Pascal and Michaluk. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

This article received support from the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.



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