Student Center for Science Engagement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Dana Navarro
January 12, 2009 (773) 442-4227
NEIU Receives More Than $2 Million to Support Hispanic and
Low-income Students Majoring in STEM Sciences
CHICAGO – Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, recently was awarded a grant in the amount of $2,159,877 over two years from the Department of Education. The award will be used to create a new interdisciplinary Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE) to provide Hispanic and low-income college students a comprehensive set of services to retain and support them in the successful completion of their bachelor’s degrees.
The program will focus on two objectives: 1) to significantly increase the number of Hispanic and other low-income students attaining degrees in the STEM disciplines (fields of biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, mathematics, and physics) and 2) to enhance NEIU’s transfer and articulation agreements with the two-year Hispanic-serving institutions in the area in order to increase the number and preparation of students seeking majors in these fields.
“This major initiative draws upon the past successes of the NEIU effort to support the Hispanic community it serves,” said David Rutschman, associate dean, college of arts and sciences, and professor, mathematics. “The project will allow NEIU to develop and improve the capacity to serve Hispanic and other low-income students for years to come.”
He added that the Center will integrate effective teaching strategies and practices that research shows are effective in encouraging learning, persistence and retention. By updating labs and facilities, providing faculty development, enhancing academic support and mentoring, creating learning environments that encourage social integration, and by enhancing student-faculty interaction, it is anticipated that the outcomes will be achieved and will be sustained.
To enhance student learning, the SCSE will provide student study space with tutorial support. Student tutors will provide assistance for all levels of STEM undergraduate courses, and faculty members will be encouraged to use the space for office hours. The Center also will include a seminar/smart laboratory room and a new parallel computer cluster dedicated for use in student/faculty research.
Another component of the program includes enrichment seminars for students to work in small groups on challenging problems associated with certain courses. The SCSE will expand upon a model already in place in the mathematics and chemistry departments, in which groups are led by trained undergraduate (peer) leaders who have previously met with faculty members responsible for the seminars. A study using two-years of data for seminars in the mathematics department demonstrated that the grades of seminar participants were higher than those of the rest of the class.
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