GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 218-3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


ERIKSON, Johan1, YOUNG, Marion E.2, JURY, Steven H.1 and TEEGARDEN, Gregory J.1, (1)Sciences, Saint Joseph's College of Maine, 278 Whites Bridge Rd, Standish, ME 04084, (2)Psychology, Saint Joseph's College of Maine, 278 Whites Bridge Rd, Standish, ME 04084

Self-efficacy (i.e., belief in one’s ability to cope with a situation based on possessed skills) in undergraduate students is one of many keys to persistence and success. Two of our programs that are grounded in immersive experiential pedagogy were evaluated for their impact on student self-efficacy amongst two cohorts of NSF SSTEM-supported science majors:

1) a 10-week, traveling, off-campus program for second- and third-year geoscience students (the Environmental Science Semester, ESS, has had both SSTEM and non-SSTEM students); and

2) a one-week summer bridge program for incoming, NSF SSTEM-supported first-year science students (mixed geoscience, biology, and chemistry majors).

The ESS and bridge programs have run four times and twice, respectively.

The instructional activities involve a high ratio of field work to lecture and lab work with collection of quantitative field data, plus generation and analysis of quantitative chemical data, thus building proficiency with the tools and language of science.

Academic self-efficacy, social self-efficacy, and group environment integration were analyzed by questionnaires and focus groups for both SSTEM cohorts and a control group. Academic self-efficacy among SSTEM cohorts increased by statistically-significant larger amounts than among the control. Social efficacy also increased among the SSTEM cohorts who experienced the immersive experiential programs more than among the control, but not at a significant level.

Pearson product-moment correlations were computed to assess the relationship among academic efficacy, social efficacy, group integration, and other variables of interest for both cohorts. There was a strong positive correlation between the student’s self-reported GPA at the end of the academic year, academic self-efficacy, confidence in their academic abilities, and group integration (all at 0.75 < r < 0.92 and p = 0.01-0.02).

For both of the SSTEM cohorts, one of the major highlights of their college experience to date continues to be experiential learning. Members of both cohorts who participated in the fall 2020 ESS enthusiastically endorsed the transformative experience of immersive hands-on research and close collaboration with the faculty involved. Collectively, the results of this study provide insight into how the NSF SSTEM program and ESS, characterized by cohort building and progressive engagement, continues to increase student retention in our STEM majors and positively impact student self-efficacy.