Bridging the STEM Divide: Achieving Success by Engaging Freshmen STEM Majors through Math Readiness and STEM Boot Camps

Claudette Davis

Session Information

Year: 2016 | Time: 4:15pm-5:45pm (Poster Session) | Location: (Fenwick 2nd Floor) Poster Session


An overwhelming number of high school graduates are ill-equipped with the tools necessary for post-secondary school success.  Virginia high school students are surpassing the national average on college entrance exams, however, roughly 1/3 of the 22,263 fall below the benchmarks established in math and science.  George Mason University and the STEM Accelerator Program seek to improve retention of their STEM majors as many students enter college with dismal math skills and study skills in general.  If poor study skills are added into the picture all STEM majors enter their post-secondary education at a deficit.  To help bridge the STEM divide, the STEM Accelerator Program has developed a STEM Boot camp and more recently a Math Readiness Camp for our incoming STEM majors. 

Our Math Readiness Camp is designed to help students who have not mastered essential math skills that are required for STEM majors.  Since 2013 GMU hosted a Biology Boot Camp and two STEM Boot Camps.  During our one week camp, students sat through the first course they will take in their major; these classes included Cell Structure and Function (BIOL 213); General Chemistry (CHEM 211); or Calculus (Math 113).  These "gatekeeper" classes can turn students away from STEM if specific deficiencies are not addressed.  We will describe the Math Readiness and STEM Boot Camps and present retention data from the three cohorts that have participated in our Camps.  Lessons learned that can be applied beyond the camp model will be discussed, in addition to how the camps can also be modified for non-STEM majors.


STEM education, experiential learning, retention


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