NSF INCLUDES: Design & Development Launch Pilots: UTAH PREP
Utah Valley University (UVU) with partners Weber State University (WSU) and American Indian Services (AIS) are implementing UTAH PREP (PREParation for STEM Careers) to address the need for early preparation in mathematics to strengthen and invigorate the secondary-to-postsecondary-to-career STEM pipeline. As the preliminary groundwork for UTAH PREP, each partner currently hosts a PREP program (UVU PREP, WSU PREP, and AIS PREP) that identifies low-income, under-represented minority, first-generation, and female students entering seventh grade who have interest and aptitude in math and science, and involves them in a seven-week, three-year summer intensive program integrating STEM courses and activities. The course content blends skill-building academics with engaging experiences that promote a clear understanding of how mathematical concepts and procedures are applied in various fields of science and engineering. Courses are enhanced through special projects, field trips, college campus visits, and the annual Sci-Tech EXPO. The purpose of the program is to motivate and prepare participants from diverse backgrounds to complete a rigorous program of mathematics in high school so that they can successfully pursue STEM studies and careers, which are vital to advancing the regional and national welfare.
UTAH PREP is based on the TexPREP program that originated at the University of Texas at San Antonio and which was named as one of the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in 2015. TexPREP was adapted by UVU for use in Utah for non-minority serving institutions and in regions with lower minority populations, but with great academic and college participation disparity. With NSF funding for a two-year pilot program, the project partners are building UTAH PREP through a networked improvement community, collective impact approach that, if demonstrably successful, has the ability to scale to a national level. This pilot program's objectives include: 1) creating a UTAH PREP collaboration with commitments to a common set of objectives and common set of plans to achieve them; 2) strengthening existing PREP programs and initiating UTAH PREP at two or three other institutions of higher education in Utah, each building a sustainable local support network; 3) developing a shared measurement system to assess the impact of UTAH PREP programs, adaptations, and mutually reinforcing activities on students, including those from groups that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines; and 4) initiating a backbone organization that will support future scaling of the program's impact.
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