One-week Summer Program for At-Risk Students

Project No.
PI Name
Charles Lam
California State University, Bakersfield

Abstract 1

One-week Summer Program for At-Risk Students

Presentation Type
Charles Lam, Melissa Danforth, California State University, Bakersfield


California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) serves a vast region in the southern end of Californiaメs San Joaquin valley. This region has one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the country. The region also has a history of low educational achievement rate, with only 72% of the population finishing high school and only 15% of the population holding university degrees.

Retention in STEM is a major concern. STEM fields, particularly in the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering, have low retention rates for first and second year students and for transfer students. We identified three major factors contributing to this issue: a lack of early exposure to real-world applications, a lack of connection to upper-classmen, and poor mathematical preparedness, leading to low academic success in pre-calculus and calculus.


The goal of CSUBメs IUSE project is to increase the percentage of STEM students who are retained in STEM fields, to broaden the support provided to students in STEM fields and increase student exposure to opportunities in STEM, and to increase the number of students who graduate in STEM fields.

The project involves components to address all major factors that we identified. This abstract focuses on the Summer Enrichment Program, which provides students completing first and second year coursework with exposure to real-world applications through a one-week exploratory program.


The summer program uses hands-on activities to engage students, introduces them to a science discipline of their interest, and increases career awareness at an early stage. In 2015, 26 students participated in either Chemistry, Engineering, or Mathematics sessions, in analysis of coffee, properties of liquids, and chaos theory, respectively. The program began with a three and a half day workshop in one of the disciplines, led by an experienced faculty, and concluded with a half-day career workshop.


Students completed pre- and post-surveys. Students were asked to rate their agreement with statements on a Likert scale (5=strongly agree, 3= neutral, 1=strongly disagree). In the pre-survey, participants are interested in their field of study (4.44), a career in STEM (4.32) and research in STEM (3.92), but are less aware of the academic knowledge (3.8) and skills (3.72) needed to be successful in a STEM program. Most participants also expressed an interest to learn more about their field of study and career opportunities. In the post-survey, participants show an increased interest in the field of study (4.71), a career in STEM (4.71), and research in STEM (4.57). Students also showed a strong increase in the awareness of academic knowledge (4.3) and skills (4.33) needed to be successful in STEM. On separate validation questions, students have increased interest in the field of study (87%), a career in STEM (81%), and research in STEM (87%). 100% would recommend this program to others in the future.

53% of the participants identified themselves as underrepresented minorities and 69% were enrolled in either remedial mathematics or pre-calculus. Retention data and at-risk status will tracked for participants.

Broader Impacts

The program broadens student exposure to opportunities and lays the foundation for academic success and career interest. A summer dissemination workshop is being planned for the summer of 2016.

Unexpected Challenges

Student recruitment into summer programs. Social media and poster advertising did not generate enough interest for participation. To remediate the process, we seek help from academic advisors for the sciences to identify appropriate students suitable for the program, and extensive advertising by visiting target classes in remedial mathematics and precalculus to recruit student participants.


No publications at this moment.