Evaluation Finds EduGuide Boosts College STEM Persistence

https://youtu.be/OscSpzxi718

Dr. Kwame Opuni, University of Houston

A new evaluation by a major university has found that EduGuide contributed to significant gains in key indicators of student persistence in STEM fields. The evaluation was part of a federal grant to address critical needs in STEM education.

A national Joint Working Group recently found a continuing major gap at every level in college STEM degree attainment for Hispanic, African-American and Native American students. This became a critical talent pipeline challenge at the University of Texas El Paso campus (UTEP) where 9-in-10 UTEP students are minority. For instance, STEM students at El Paso Community College were less likely to be retained in STEM fields, more likely to switch to a non-STEM field and less likely to transfer to a STEM field at UTEP. To address this issue, UTEP and its partners won a federal grant to restructure their STEM supports and to use EduGuide to increase student persistence as part of their STEMGrow initiative.

UTEP’s selection of EduGuide was based in part on prior research which found that non-cognitive, social-emotional factors (such as the sense of purpose and mindset skills that EduGuide builds) play a vital role in predicting students’ first-year performance in college engineering programs. As Ryan Senkpeil and Edward Burger found, student’s past academic performance alone can’t always adequately predict how they will handle the challenges of a new level and a new environment, leading them to conclude that, “changing students’ non-cognitive profiles can lead to noticeable changes in their academic performance.”

As part of the grant, UTEP embedded EduGuide in engineering courses. In the syllabus, students were simply asked to complete 10 online EduGuide activities for the semester to equip them to be more successful in their courses and career. Students could complete the activities in an average of 15 minutes on their phone or other device at their own pace during the semester. As they did so professors, peer mentors and support staff could respond back to them with coaching comments to build a deeper sense of belonging and to encourage their personal growth.     

An evaluation of UTEP’s use of EduGuide as part of their STEMGrow initiative found promising results:

  1. STEMGrow students experienced an increase verses comparison students in their capacity to persist in STEM studies as measured by a 1.6 point comparative gain on the Science Motivation Questionnaire II.
  2. STEMGrow students experienced a .23 point gain on the Grit Scale vs comparison students.
  3. STEMGrow students reported growth on multiple non-cognitive mindsets and skills as detailed below.

 

Changes in STEMGrow Students’ Science Motivation Levels on the Five Motivation Components (Score Range: 0-20). Students experienced the largest gains on measures of self-efficacy, career-motivation and intrinsic motivation while grade motivation declined slightly. See report for more details.

 

The UTEP STEMGrow EduGuide evaluation concluded:

“The degree to which the STEMGrow cohort students perceived their significant growth in 14 vital areas directly and empirically associated with academic achievement and college success is a major finding. The assessments offer a compelling insight to the pervasive impact of EduGuide strategies, activities, and resources in enhancing the comprehensive academic readiness of students (especially amongst minority students with little or no history of college attendance and completions).”

Of the 14 factors measured, the most highly reported areas for considerable growth were:

  1. More Curious to Learn New Things
  2. Get Over Setbacks Quicker
  3. Listen Better to Feedback
  4. Complete More Schoolwork
  5. Encourage and Mentor Others More

Following a presentation of the results at a national college success conference, lead evaluator Dr. Kwame Opuni of the University of Houston commented, “I have been involved in assessing student progress in a lot of programs over the last twenty years and generally I don’t see a lot of impact that is substantial or significant with educational programs. But with EduGuide, I was very surprised as one of the few programs that I have seen that have had a major impact within just one semester… I didn’t really think I would see such results so quickly….I was superbly impressed.” See video interview. 

Changes students attributed to their work with EduGuide

  • “I learned many new things and strive better.”
  • “(I learned) to be a better problem solver.”
  • “I feel like I can manage my time better and it made me realize how I can grow as a person every day with small actions.”
  • “It has improved the way I see my career. It helped me to know that I actually want to do and what my career is.”
  • “I am more open to constructive criticism and I manage my time and stress better than I did before. I am also more confident in approaching people.”
  • “(It has) helped me stay motivated and focused on what is important.”
  • “I’ve learned to better cope with situations and not become as stressed.”
  • “EduGuide helped me to learn how to concentrate.”
  • “More positive about things and better relationships.”
  • “I learned how to keep encouraging myself and others like my friend especially my family.”
  • “It has helped me personally with relationships with family and friends as well as improvement on my school work.”
  • “It helped me stay on track.”
  • “It helped me to reflect on what I have overcome. It has also motivated me to keep trying and help others along the way.”
  • “(It) helps keep a positive mindset.”
  • “I have been more conscious on what I want to do, on what I do and what I don’t do. This has helped me improve in my personal and professional aspects.”
  • “I feel like I have gotten a bit more motivated especially when times got rough. Also, I feel impatient almost to just getting started on my career path.”
  • “It has helped me to improve my relationship with my mother.”
  • “This semester I started using EduGuide and I think it motivated me to try and find more people to support and help through their hard times, try and make more friends and have a better relationship with my mother. In general I don’t feel a lot of change because I have always been curious and enjoy learning new things, also always have been good in school with respect to grades and school work.”
  • “It taught me things that I didn’t know about.”
  • “It has made me more prepared to tackle learning obstacles. It also has made me reflect on my own struggles that have been holding me back.”
  • “I have improved by not focusing on setbacks.”
  • “It has helped me do better in school and life.”
  • “Basically EduGuide did help me, but just in the relationships part.”
  • “I did not use it as much as I should although in the beginning of the semester it inspired and gave me hope to make it past the semester.”
  • “It reminded me to slow down and reflect on my own life, and it has even encouraged me to write in a journal. It helped me to take my own advice and to practice what you preach.”
  • “I’ve learned a lot about myself, about how people have mentored me, how I learn things, and how I can change my mind from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. I have also learned about how to be a good mentor to others, how to give and receive effective Encouragement.”
  • “I have become more optimistic.”
  • “(It has) motivated me to work harder for what I want.”
  • “It has made me realize how many obstacles I’ve been able to get through by myself, and that nothing can stop me from reaching my goals.”
  • “I have grown in overcoming setbacks quicker.”
  • “It has helped me to keep track of things that need to be done and offered help to me if I’ve ever needed it.”
  • “It has helped me understand how to deal with relationships with people and along with learning more about what I’m capable of.”
  • “Overall, I liked EduGuide and how it encouraged me to better myself.”
EduGuide

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