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					                         Epsilon Corps: Expanding STEM Talent
    Through Campus Environmental Exploration, Mentoring and Peer Motivation

                                        Project Overview

    We propose to implement an innovative program to increase the undergraduate science,

technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) enrollment as well as enhance subsequent

student retention and success in all STEM fields at Kean University (pronounced: ’Kane’), an

urban, comprehensive, public university in northern New Jersey. Over the 5-year-period of the

project, we will establish a campus-wide community program known as ―Epsilon Corps‖ to

engage a total of 580 incoming non-science and undecided students in science-related, campus-

based environmental projects. Through the program, we will get this group of highly diverse

students excited about science, encourage them to choose their major(s) from among the five

STEM departments at Kean (Biology, Chemistry/Physics, Mathematics/Computer Science,

Geology/Meteorology, and Technology), and ensure their subsequent retention/success by

providing follow-up mentoring and intensive support. We will also use Epsilon Corps to create a

campus-wide science-friendly culture, to build a community of active learners among the STEM

students, to expand outreach programs to regional high school students, and to bring about long-

term institutional and curricular changes for sustainable increase in STEM recruitment and

retention at Kean — see the section on Goals and Objectives for details.

    Each year, we will target a new group of 100 or more non-science and undecided incoming

students as Epsilon Corps students and engage them in hands-on, interactive environmental

projects, paying special attention to recruit female and minority students. These recruits will

work in teams of five, with each team led by two senior/junior science majors, and each group of

four teams supervised by a faculty mentor/advisor from one of the five STEM departments at

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                             1
Kean. The 20 teams will conduct investigative projects to assess or improve various aspects of

the campus environment — from air, water or soil quality, to energy usage and conservation;

from geological or meteorological settings, to biodiversity and natural habitat conservation. We

will organize the 20 Epsilon teams into five special sections of the required one-credit Freshman

Seminar course to maintain student involvement and enhance student team interaction. For

students who subsequently choose to major in STEM fields, we will provide follow-up

mentoring and long-term support throughout their years of study, and enrich the learning

experience of all STEM majors with Epsilon-related research and peer leadership positions. This

program will enhance STEM recruitment and retention, especially for women and minority

students at Kean. It will strengthen all STEM programs and provide a transferable model for

enhancing STEM recruitment and retention in similar institutions nationwide.

Unique features of the Project

Epsilon Corps is distinct from most science bridge/mentoring programs.

1) It will attract students who would not normally choose science as a course of study and

    progressively engage them in STEM fields by appealing to their concern for environmental

    issues, and by meeting their socialization and community involvement needs.

2) It will create a campus-wide science-friendly culture while bringing the relevance and

    excitement of STEM close to students’ personal and social lives. All ―Epsilon Corps‖

    sessions and activities will have a distinctive ―affective‖ dimension, be team-based and

    experiential, and provide a congenial environment for peer interaction and mentoring.

3) It will provide a campus-wide platform to integrate and expand existing STEM

    bridge/mentoring programs, thereby enhancing STEM recruitment and retention at multiple

    entry-points (from supervising high school students’ projects, to engaging undecided

      CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                             2
    Freshman students; from mentoring and supporting students who have chosen STEM majors,

    to developing career opportunities for STEM graduates).

4) It will use an existing curricular format (University-required Freshman Seminar course) to

    guarantee student involvement and group interaction while adding a year-long experiential

    learning process to connect incoming students with STEM programs and activities. It will

    establish an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program featuring a sustained active

    learning environment in all relevant entry level STEM courses. Epsilon will emphasize

    experiential learning, highlight the connections among STEM programs at Kean, and

    provide suitable courses and career paths for STEM students with environmental interests.

5) It will provide stipends and other financial incentives for student participants and peer

    mentors as many of them come from traditionally disadvantaged groups. (More than 50% of

    the requested funding will be used as students stipend and direct support.)

6) It will lead to other long-term institutional changes, including a) the transformation of a

    portion of Freshman Seminar into a STEM recruitment vehicle, b) the integration of

    junior/senior STEM research with Epsilon mentor/leadership opportunities, c) the

    establishment of Epsilon Awards/Scholarships and other financial incentives for students

    entering and persisting in STEM areas, and d) the creation of an Epsilon Center for all

    STEM activities (peer interaction, mentoring, hands-on projects, virtual environmental

    modeling, research displays/presentations, and other STEM club/social activities).

                                    Goals & Objectives

   The goals of the ―Epsilon Corps‖ program are: (a) to achieve an increase of 80% in the

number of our incoming students who choose science in their first year (from the current 90-100

freshmen annually, to 160-170 freshmen annually by grant year 5); (b) to double the 3-year

retention rate and the 5-year graduation rate for STEM students (from the current 32.8% and

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                            3
15.9% respectively, to 65% and 35% respectively by grant year 5) —See Table 1 in Setting and

Context for current statistics, projected improvement and justification; (c) to create a science-

friendly culture among first-year students and throughout the campus; and (d) to bring long-term

institutional changes for a sustainable increase in STEM recruitment and retention.

   The specific objectives are to: (1) establish a 500-member ―Epsilon Corps‖ during the 5-year

period of the grant as an active and sustainable science-oriented organization; (2) involve all the

five STEM departments in a joint, coherent initiative to make science attractive and accessible to

incoming students; (3) build a community of active learners among STEM students and enrich

their learning experience through hands-on projects, peer interaction and leadership experience;

(4) develop a strong faculty-student mentoring network that will provide STEM students with

integrated support through their years of study; (5) establish an interdisciplinary Environmental

Studies program featuring an active learning environment in all relevant entry level STEM

courses; (6) transform a portion of the required one-credit Freshman Seminar into an experiential

learning process featuring theme-oriented, hands-on exploratory projects and use it as a vehicle

to enhance STEM recruitment; (7) integrate and expand existing STEM bridge/mentoring

programs and extend the STEM recruitment base to more regional high school students; and (8)

create an Epsilon Center as a home base for STEM peer interaction, mentoring, hands-on

explorations, virtual environmental modeling, research displays/presentations, and students’

club/social actitivities. — See Expected Outcomes section for details.

                                        Setting & Context

Kean University is the third-largest four-year public institution in the New Jersey state college

and university system. It offers 45 undergraduate programs and 27 master degree programs and

is divided into five colleges, with the College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences housing

all the five STEM departments. While not formally classified as a minority-or-Hispanic serving

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                               4
institution, Kean University has a richly diverse student population, and serves a region (northern

New Jersey) with the most rapidly growing immigrant population in the nation. Most of Kean’s

13,000 students are either first-generation college attendees or come from low-to-middle income

socioeconomic backgrounds. The aforementioned diverse student profile makes Kean an ideal

setting to implement the Epsilon Corps program from which valuable lessons can be learned on

enhancing the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in STEM fields.

       Of the 9,970 undergraduate students enrolled in Fall 2002 include 64.3% females, 21.2%

African-Americans, 20.1% Hispanics, and 6.8% Asians/American Indians/Pacific Islanders.

Between Fall 1998 and Fall 2002, the percentage of whites among first-time full time freshman

students ranges from 48.5% to 43.2%. The challenge of enhancing recruitment and retention in

STEM fields at Kean is further emphasized by the academic background of Kean’s incoming

students who are generally not well prepared and/or unwilling to choose STEM areas as their

majors. For the 1,317 first-time, full-time freshman students who entered in Fall 2002, the

combined mean SAT score is 963, with math component at 499. Within this cohort, only 103

students (8.7%) declared to be STEM majors in their first year. Between 1999 and 2002, STEM

students make up 8.6% (3-year average) of the entire undergraduate student population. For the

three most recent cohorts with applicable data, the 1-year retention rate, 3-year retention rate,

and 5-year graduation rate are all substantially lower for STEM students than for the non-STEM

undergraduate population (being respectively 76.5%, 32.8% and 15.9% for applicable STEM

cohorts compared to 78.1%, 59.7% and 33.9% for corresponding non-STEM cohorts).

       The current STEM enrollment and retention situation at Kean University is also in stark

contrast with the urgent economic needs of its surrounding community: Northern New Jersey has

one of the nation’s fastest growing sector of high-tech industries, with a heavy concentration of

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                               5
companies in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronics and information technology. Despite

the acute regional need for well-trained STEM graduates, many of Kean’s incoming students do

not have enough confidence or motivation to choose majors in STEM fields. Anecdotally, we

have learned that students generally avoid STEM programs because they do not want to face the

uncertainties of completing the rigorous program requirements in STEM fields, but many more

stay away from STEM majors simply because (a) they have seldom experienced the relevance

and excitement of science-related activities, and (b) they perceive studies in STEM programs as

isolated and removed from their personal and social lives.

       In line with Kean University’s mission to provide quality and accessible education to the

diverse population of New Jersey, the Epsilon Corps program is designed to address the situation

at multiple entry-points —See Table 1 below for current statistics, projected improvement and

justification; see Table 2 for the number of students to benefit by the program. Since the

demographic characteristics of Kean’s current student body mirror what many U.S. college

campuses are bound to experience in a couple of decades, the success of the novel approach of

―Epsilon Corps‖ will provide a transferable model with broad and long-term impact on

enhancing STEM enrollment and retention among women and minority students nationwide.

                            CURRENT                                PROJECTED
                           STATISTICS                            IMPROVEMENT
    TABLE 1                              RECENT
                         RECENT                   GRANT      GRANT      GRANT      GRANT      GRANT
                        3-YR DATA                  YR 1       YR 2       YR 3       YR 4       YR 5
                        1161 (2000)                  (Assuming no change in # of incoming students)
     # OF 1 YR
                        1132 (2001)      1203
                                                                                                         Increase in STEM

                                                   1203       1203       1203       1203       1203
                        1317 (2002)

 # OF 1 YR STUDENTS       83 (2000)                119**      129**      154**      164**      176 **
   CHOOSING STEM          97 (2001)       94        26%        37%        64%        74%        87%
       MAJORS            103 (2002)               increase   increase   increase   increase   increase
% OF 1 YR STUDENTS     7.15% (2000)
 CHOOSING STEM         8.75% (2001)      7.9%      9.9%      10.7%      12.8%      13.6%      14.1%
      MAJORS           7.82% (2002)

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                                              6
    Table 1 (cont’d)             3-Yr Data      3-Yr Avg.      Yr 1        Yr 2        Yr 3      Yr 4       Yr 5

1 YR RETENTION RATE          75.86% (1999)
  for 1 yr student cohorts   79.52% (2000)        76.5%*         n/a       77%        82%         87%       90%***

                                                                                                                         Increase in STEM
   choosing stem majors      74.23% (2001)

3 YR RETENTION RATE          35.43% (1997)
  for 1 yr student cohorts   33.61% (1998)        32.8%*         n/a        n/a        n/a        50%       65%***
   choosing stem majors      29.31% (1999)
  5 YR GRADUATION            17.01% (1995)
  for 1 yr student cohorts
                             16.11% (1996)        15.9%*         n/a        n/a        n/a         n/a      35%***
   choosing stem majors      14.69% (1997)
                             *  1 yr retention, 3 yr retention and 5 yr graduation rates for corresponding non-STEM cohorts are
                                78.1%, 59.7% and 33.9% respectively.
                             ** The projected increase in recruitment is based on the increasing proportion of Epsilon students
       NOTES &                  who choose STEM in their first year and a corresponding increase from non-Epsilon students
    JUSTIFICATION               due to the new science-friendly culture, with the most drastic increase in Grant Yr 3.
                             ***The projected increase in 1 yr retention, 3 yr retention and 5 yr graduation rates is based on
                                current rates for non-science STEM cohorts shown above, and the projected impact of intensive
                                mentoring and support for STEM students in the 5 yr grant period.

     TABLE 2: Number of Epsilon Students & STEM Majors to Benefit by the Program
                                                            Year 1      Year 2      Year 3      Year 4      Year 5      Total

                                                              100         100         120        120         140          580
                    Summer Orientation participants
 Epsilon          Projected Participants completing        80         80        96          96        117        469
 Students               environmental projects
                   Projected Increasing participants       25         31        66          66         82        267
                 declaring STEM majors in first year
                     Mentors/ Project Leaders for
  Junior/                                                  40         40        48          48         56       232*
                        Summer Orientation &
                        environmental projects
                 Follow-up Mentors for Participants        n/a         5         8          13         17        43*
                 declaring STEM majors in first year
                * The actual head count for Junior/Senior mentors is lower because of partial overlap when they serve
                  in more than one year.

Epsilon Philosophy & Main Features of Activities

In order to attract non-science and undecided students, especially women and minority students,

to STEM programs at Kean, the approach must be subtle and inviting. The program activities

and the related curricular structures must appeal to the students’ inherent interest and satisfy their

personal and social needs for social bonding and community involvement. The name ―Epsilon

Corps‖ is chosen to attract the broadest range of incoming students by conveying a sense of peer

bonding and belonging, bringing to students’ mind a positive image associated with

         CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                                                            7
fraternity/sorority camaraderie, honor society prestige, and the volunteerism of Americorps.

(Implicitly, ―‖ in Epsilon stands for ―Engagement in STEM through campus environmental

exploration‖, ―Enhancement of STEM education through community involvement and peer

motivation‖; or ―Exposure to, and Excitement about, science.‖)

       All Epsilon activities will have a distinctive ―affective‖ dimension and will focus on

creating a congenial environment for active learning, peer interaction and mentoring. For non-

science and undecided incoming students, we will use campus environmental projects as a

vehicle to engage them and lead them to choose STEM majors through first-year campus

environmental projects. The attractive features of the Epsilon activities for incoming students

are: (1) the small 5 to 2 participant-to-peer mentor ratio (each group of 5 students led by 2

junior/senior STEM majors); (2) the direct contact and close interaction between the annual class

of 100 Epsilon students and the five project co-PIs as Epsilon mentors/advisors (20 students per

faculty mentor/advisor); (3) an existing curricular format (University-required Freshman

Seminar course) to guarantee student involvement and enhance student group interaction; (4) the

community-building approach that brings five groups of 100 students together regularly

throughout the year; (5) the ―hands-on‖ environmental exploration projects as an open

introduction and invitation to the world of science (see Appendix for a brief description of

sample projects), (6) the relaxed environment of experiential learning free from the ―science

anxiety‖ that many first-year students experience in grade-earning science courses, and (7) built-

in monetary compensation of junior/senior STEM majors and Epsilon participants for summer

participation and year-long environmental projects.

       For Epsilon students who choose to major in STEM fields and for all existing STEM

majors, we will provide follow-up mentoring and support throughout their years of study. We

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                             8
will continue to focus on the ―affective‖ dimension of STEM studies, to establish an

interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program, to promote active learning and experiential

learning, and to strengthen peer interaction among all STEM students by integrating

junior/senior independent research with Epsilon mentoring and leadership experience.

       For regional high school students, we will double the number of participants in existing

bridge/mentoring programs (from the current annual figure of 250 to 500) and we will attract

interested participants to continue off-campus STEM projects by providing advice and support.

                                     Expected outcomes

The project’s measurable outcomes, many of which will be evaluated through systematic surveys

and focus group meetings, include:

-   Develop the ―Epsilon Corps‖ as an active, high-profile campus group that annually

    engages100 or more non-science and undecided incoming students in environmental projects,

    paying special attention to recruit female and under-represented minority students;

-   Progressively promote a positive attitude about science among Epsilon students (580 over 5

    years) and building a campus culture where science is viewed as ―popular and cool;‖

-   Increase the number of Kean’s incoming students who choose STEM majors in their first

    year by 80% (from the current 90-100 freshmen annually to 160-170 freshmen annually by

    grant year 5) —See Table 1 in for current statistics, projected improvement and justification

-   Double the 3-year retention rate and the 5-year graduation rate for STEM students (from the

    current rates of 32.8% and 15.9% respectively to 65% and 35% respectively by grant year 5);

-   Build a community of active learners by strengthening peer interaction between Epsilon

    students and declared STEM majors, and establish a strong faculty-student mentoring

    network that will support STEM students throughout their years of study;

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                          9
-              Foster active learning and teamwork abilities by involving students in laboratory-based

               investigations throughout their years of study;

-              Advance leadership skills and independent research capabilities for a rotating group of

               senior/junior STEM majors as they design and lead Epsilon environmental projects and

               participate in other Epsilon activities;

-              Create an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program featuring active learning

               environment in all relevant STEM entry level courses;

-              Transform a portion of the Freshman Seminar into an experiential learning process featuring

               theme-oriented, hands-on explorations and use it as a means to enhance STEM recruitment;

-              Integrate and expand existing STEM bridge/mentoring programs and extend the STEM

               recruitment base to more regional high school students;

-              Build an Epsilon Center as a STEM home base for peer mentoring, hands-on explorations,

               environmental modeling, research displays/presentations, and students’ social actitivities.

                                    Action Plan and Time Table — See Table 3 below for details.

Table 3                           ACTIVITIES                                             DETAILS
                                                        Plan for project implementation and assessment.
                                  Project planning
    Pre-Grant Preparation
    (Nov. 2003 – Jun. 2004)

                                                        Plan for the first Epsilon summer orientation week in August 2004.
                                  and preparation
                                                        Plan for special Epsilon sections of Freshman Seminar in Fall 2004.
                                  Recruit Epsilon       Select and invite 100 non-science and undecided entering students to join the
                                    students and         Epsilon Corps summer orientation week, paying special attention to recruit
                                  training project       women and under-represented students.
                                       leaders          Select/train senior/junior STEM students to serve as Epsilon project leaders
                                                        Collect pre-project data on students’ attitude affecting STEM enrollment and
                                 Collect pre-project
                                                         retention (for future project assessment)
                                                        Develop instruments for future formative and summative assessment

                                                        Guide Epsilon students in identifying campus environmental projects with the
                                 Organize Summer
                                                         assistance of senior/junior STEM majors as project leaders.
(Jul. 2004 – Jun.
 Grant Year 1

                                                        Arrange visits to regional, environmental companies
                                    (Aug. 2004)
                                                        Publicize planned Epsilon activities and STEM career prospects

                                  Use Freshman          Help students design, refine and conduct environmental projects
                                    Seminar to          Monitor progress of environmental projects by April 2005
                                  Institutionalize      Expand students’ interest in environmental issues into a broader appreciation
                                 Epsilon activities      of STEM programs and activities

                              CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                                       10
                               Involve STEM             Introduce students to the teaching/research environment in STEM departments
                             departments to host        Involve all STEM departments to host relevant Epsilon project teams
                              Epsilon students          Connect Epsilon students with STEM student clubs/organizations
                                                        Set-up an Epsilon web-site for publicity and peer-communication
                               Promote Epsilon
                                                        Publish an annual Epsilon Newsletter featuring student achievement and
                                 publicity and
                                                         positive experiences with STEM activities
                                                        Integrate Epsilon publicity efforts with STEM bridge/mentoring programs
                                                        Publicize plan for follow-up mentoring and support for Epsilon students after
                               Motivate Epsilon          they choose STEM majors
                              students to choose        Publicize opportunities for Epsilon students to serve as future project leaders
                                STEM majors              and peer mentors after they choose STEM majors
                                                        Publicize career options and successful STEM graduates
                                                        Double the number of participants in existing Bridge and WIST (pre-college
                                                         programs focusing on women and minorities) and MARS (a research-based
                               Expand existing
                                                         programs for undergraduate minorities already in the sciences)
                              bridge/ mentoring
                                                        Invite Bridge/WIST high school participants to the Epsilon Celebration Day
                                                        Provide faculty supervision and logistic support for interested Bridge and
                                                         WIST participants to conduct off-campus high school STEM projects
                                  Use Epsilon           Recognize completed Epsilon projects with presentations and exhibits.
                              Celebration Day to        Recognize Epsilon student achievement and leadership through Epsilon
                               promote science-          Scholarship Awards, and other monetary and gift awards
Grant Year 1 (continued)

                                friendly culture         Invite keynote speaker to publicize STEM career opportunities
 (Jul. 2004 – Jun. 2005)

                                  (Apr. 2005)           Publicize exemplary Epsilon students and project leaders as role models
                                                        Build a sustainable peer mentoring community among Epsilon project leaders
                              Build a mentoring
                                                         and Epsilon students who choose STEM majors
                              network to support
                                                        Train more senior/junior STEM students to become follow-up mentors
                               STEM students
                                                        Involve more faculty members to serve as STEM mentors/advisors
                                                        Consolidate existing efforts to establish separate ―Environmental Options‖ in
                                   Establish             4 STEM departments into a single program involving all STEM departments.
                                Environmental           Develop new interdisciplinary courses for the Environmental Studies program
                              Studies programs          Develop environmentally-oriented Experiential Learning Laboratory Units to
                                (with targeted           enhance active learning for all STEM students
                             starting date in Sep.      Study ways to connect Epsilon projects, Experiential Learning Laboratory
                                     2005)               Units, and junior/senior independent research as sequenced components of an
                                                         active learning environment.
                                                        Conduct end-of-the-year student surveys and focus groups
                              Conduct formative
                                                        Collect students’ reaction and reflection on the impact of Epsilon activities
                                                        Survey both Epsilon and non-Epsilon students on attitudes toward science
                              (Apr. – May 2005)
                                                        Suggest necessary changes for Year 2 through Year 5 activities

                              Repeat applicable
                                                      Repeat applicable Grant yr 1 activities with necessary adjustment
                             Grant yr 1 activities
(Jul. 2005 – Jun. 2007)

                              Provide intensive       Provide follow-up mentoring and intensive academic support to ensure the
  Grant Years 2 & 3

                             Mentoring to STEM         retention and success of Epsilon students who choose STEM majors
                                  students            Involve all STEM majors in peer-mentoring network
                                Complete the          Use existing STEM building space to set up an Epsilon Center with new
                               Epsilon Center          computer/ presentation equipment for Epsilon and other STEM student
                                (April 2006)           activities
                                                      Monitor choice of majors by Year 1 Epsilon students and non-Epsilon
                                 Expand data
                                collection and
                                                      Conduct formative and summative assessment at the end of Years 2 and 3 to
                                                       include mentoring/support for Epsilon students who choose to STEM majors

                           CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                                          11
                              Repeat applicable
                                Grant yrs 1-3       Repeat applicable Grant yrs 1-3 activities with necessary adjustment
                               Expand career        Expand existing alumni network and corporate connections to enhance career
 (Jul. 2007 – Jun. 2009)

                              opportunities for      opportunities and choices for Epsilon students and all STEM majors in
  Grant Years 4 and 5

                              STEM graduates         anticipation of their graduation in the near future
                              Secure long-term      Seek continued funding from various sources to institutionalize Epsilon
                                  funding            program beyond the five-year grant period
                                                    Engage external experts to participate in outcome reviews and assessment
                              Complete project
                                                    Organize peer-review site visits and focus-group meetings for external input in
                                (Jul. 2008 –
                                 Jun.2009)          Conduct summative assessment for dissemination, publicity and long-term
                              Disseminate result
                                                    Disseminate project process and results via web site access
                               (Jul.2008 – Jun.
                                                    Present results through workshops, professional meetings and publications

                                              Project Evaluation & Dissemination

In grant years 1 – 3, we will conduct formative assessment and make necessary adjustment by

holding regular meetings of participating faculty advisors, obtaining feedback from STEM

faculty members and students, analyzing available data and seeking input and advice from the

Internal Advisory Committee — See Project Personnel section for committee composition. In

grant years 4 and 5, we will conduct both formative and summative assessment, paying special

attention to (a) the program’s impact on STEM enrollment and retention; (b) changes in students’

attitude toward science; c) changes in student problem-solving and team-work abilities; and (d)

the effectiveness of Epsilon Corps as a vehicle to build a community of active learners among

STEM majors. Comparative data will be collected through extensive surveys and focus group

meetings and analyzed both longitudinally (comparing results through different years of the

project) and horizontally (comparing results for students with different levels of involvement in

Epsilon activities). Intensive summative assessment procedures will begin early in Year 5 with

the additional goal of gathering information for project dissemination, enhancing publicity, and

expanding future funding opportunities.

                           CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                                      12
       Dr. Lisa Smith, a colleague in the Psychology Department at Kean University, is

nationally regarded as an expert in data analysis and program assessment strategies. She has

served as a consultant on a variety of regional and national projects, and has agreed to serve as a

consultant to this project. She will assist us in designing effective assessment instruments and

with subsequent data analyses. We will also engage two external experts in Years 4 and 5 to help

in the process of outcome reviews and assessment. In addition, we will hold peer-review site

visits/ on-site focus group meetings so that colleagues from other institutions can provide useful

input in assessing the effectiveness of the project in achieving its expected outcomes. We will

complete a final report on the results of the project, making both the project process and the

results available to educators at other institutions. We will disseminate the results both regionally

and nationally, by organizing workshops and on-site focus group visits (including faculty,

students, and mentors), by giving presentations at appropriate professional conferences, and by

publishing papers in pedagogical journals such as the Journal of College Science Teaching and

CUR (Council on Undergraduate Research) Quarterly.

    Project Doability, Sustainability and Institutional Commitment

       Following a recent reorganization of General Education courses, Kean University is

poised for new institutional initiatives to strengthen STEM recruitment and retention. One of the

two new buildings under construction will house a new Center for Science and Technology,

mainly to expand Master Degree science education programs. Within the College of Natural,

Applied and Health Sciences, efforts are currently underway to establish Environmental Options

in Biology, Geology/Meteorology, Chemistry/Geology, and Computer Science, to develop

experiential learning modules on biodiversity, and to integrate and strengthen the existing

student academic support for STEM students. The Epsilon Corps program will take advantage of

the existing efforts and bring about new momentum and significant improvement. This program

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                              13
will give the highly diverse students at Kean, especially women and minority students, a rare and

significant opportunity to enter and succeed in STEM fields. The University has built over the

last several years the capacity to increase significantly the quality, size and scope of its STEM

programs. Its new vision and strategic plan include a major reconfiguration of its academic

programs to place science and technology disciplines on the highest priority list, especially

insofar as they relate and respond to high-tech regional needs.

       Within this context, the University is committed to maintaining a high recruitment and

retention effort in the sciences. Toward that goal, the institutional support for Epsilon will be in

the amount of $294,520 or 30% of the total requested fund. This includes reassigned teaching

credits for the Co-PI’s, outreach support, establishment of the Epsilon Center, and $56,520 in

Years 4 and 5 in stipends for the student mentors and the Graduate Assistants. Kean will seek

long-term funding to cover the cost of the program beyond the 5-year grant period and to sustain

the program’s activities by incorporating the cost into its operational budgetary structure.

                                     Epsilon Personnel

The project team includes five faculty members representing all five STEM departments at

Kean, all with extensive experience in teaching, research and science outreach activities.

       Dr. Xiaobo Yu, Professor in Biology Department, has taught 14 biology courses and

published 3 joint papers in Nature. Dr. Yu has organized many workshops on teaching strategies

and directed a summer pre-med externship program for enhancing women’s enrollment in

medicine and allied health areas. Dr. Yu has also written student-oriented papers and given

keynote speeches to motivate students in pursuing sciences.

       Dr. Jing Gao, Associate professor in Chemistry/Physics Department, has been actively

involved in Woman in Science and Technology (WIST) program for several years. She gives

frequent presentations to local high school students and Kean University non-science majors on

       CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                             14
physics in everyday activities. She has supervised many research students from

Chemistry/Physics Department as well as Math/Computer Science Department.

       Dr. George Avirappattu, Associate Professor in Mathematics/Computer Science, teaches

applications of mathematics to non-mathematics majors and involves students in hands-on

computing activities such as data analysis, image processing, calculation of numerical and

symbolic solutions, and developing Web applications. He serves as a Reviewer for Grants-In-Aid

proposals from high school students for the New Jersey Academy of Sciences.

       Dr. John Dobosiewicz, Assistant Professor in Geology/Meteorology, directs the Center

for Earth System Education at Kean. Using his extensive teaching experience at the college and

pre-college level, he has integrated geographic information system (GIS) and global positioning

system (GPS) technology into his courses, and recently developed a General Education course

―Observing the Earth,‖ which serves as an ideal medium to reach out to non-science students.

       Dr. Ali Setoodehnia, Assistant Professor in Technology, has taught and conducted

research in electrical and computer engineering, telecommunication information technology, and

computer science. He has supervised many student technology projects at the college and pre-

college levels and has recently developed a new interdisciplinary course "Information

Technology in Modern Society."

       Members of the project team will benefit regularly from the input of an Internal Advisory

Committee, to be chaired by Dr. Roxie James, Dean of the College of Natural, Applied and

Health Sciences — See Appendix for Dr. James’ letter of support. Committee Members include

the chairpersons of all five STEM departments (Drs. Denise Mancarella, Dale Vitale, Charles

Murphy, Pablo Zafra, and Kamal Shahrabi), as well as Kean’s Senior Research Officer, Dr.

Toufic Hakim.

      CORPS – Kean University’s STEP                                                           15

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