Roots, Reach, and Resilience

The proposed program, Roots, Resilience, and Reach: Strengthening the STEM Infrastructure at Kapi`olani Community College, will build on the cultural knowledge and experience of our students (roots), support student retention and academic success (resilience), and provide compelling new transfer and career opportunities in their second year (reach). In 2003, the College received a National Science Foundation STEM/TCUP Planning Grant to determine how to achieve this goal. Seventeen faculty and three lead administrators identified barriers to creating a strong STEM infrastructure and identified solutions to overcoming the barriers which are embodied in the five following implementation project goals:

  1. Develop a STEM-focused Running Start and Summer Bridge program for high school juniors and seniors to ensure they arrive at the College ready for Pre-Calculus or Calculus, their first year college experience, and an active learning environment.
  2. Develop a First Year STEM Program that supports new and continuing current students to ensure that they are Calculus-Ready and prepared for STEM courses in their second year.
  3. Develop a Second Year Student Experience Program that supports continuing students to ensure that they are successful in Calculus I and II and STEM major courses.
  4. Create four undergraduate STEM curricular pathways that encourage faculty-student interaction and deepen STEM learning for STEM majors/year prior to university transfer or STEM careers.
  5. Develop and implement A.S. Degrees in Life Science and in Physical Sciences.

We anticipate that the TCUP will stimulate the following “value-added” dimensions to our STEM infrastructure by: (1) strengthening the STEM infrastructure so the College becomes a salient “incubator of science talent” focused on preparing “a diverse, internationally competitive and globally-engaged STEM workforce and well-prepared citizens”; (2) emphasizing STEM opportunities for more Hawaiian students to pursue STEM majors and successfully complete their degrees; (3) enhancing STEM curriculum through four guided pathways to help the Colleges’ students pursue STEM majors and successfully complete their degrees; and (4) expanding STEM outreach programs to improve the preparation of the College’s entering students and enhance their rate of success.

Intellectual merit of the project derives from a strong research foundation developed from 17 ethnographic site visits to campuses with strong STEM innovations, the STEM minority participation literature, Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) training, the knowledge and experience of the College’s STEM faculty, and the College’s impressive national partnerships (See “Site Visits” in Supplementary Document B). From this foundation we intend to advance knowledge on high context teaching and learning for Hawaiian and other underrepresented students (Ibarra), STEM interdisciplinary pathways, service-learning connected to undergraduate research at the two-year college, faculty-driven STEM improvement, evaluation, sustainability and institutionalization.

Broader impacts occur on campus, in the UH system, island-wide, and nationally. On campus, a strong infrastructure for successful STEM transfer and careers for ALL students will be developed. In the UH system, improved articulation and transfer agreements will be developed. Island-wide, active learning partnerships will improve K-12 STEM education, bridge digital divides, and improve both the environment and the STEM workforce. Nationally, we will share successful STEM models with other indigenous-serving and minority-serving institutions, and with the growing number of institutions who are focused on reducing the minority achievement gap in STEM learning, degree completion, and career attainment and advancement.