Meeting Abstract

27.6  Wednesday, Jan. 4  A Four-Pronged Approach to Supporting At-Risk Students: Successes and Re-Evaluations of the PERSIST Scholars Program LOVETT, D.L. *; BRADLEY, L.M.; CHAN, B.C.; NAYAK, S.; OSBORN, J.M.; College of New Jersey, Ewing; College of New Jersey, Ewing; College of New Jersey, Ewing; College of New Jersey, Ewing; College of New Jersey, Ewing lovett@tcnj.edu

The PERSIST (Program to Enhance Retention of Students in Science Trajectories) Scholars Program in Biology and Chemistry at TCNJ provides basic support services to at-risk students in a four-pronged approach: (1) careful recruitment and selection of scholars, (2) a bridge program to provide skills for success, (3) individual faculty and peer mentors, and (4) personal “Super Tutors.” We discovered that openness to advice and strength of identification with long-term goals were better predictors of scholar success than were GPA, previous coursework, or quality of high school district. During the first year of the program, we found that workshops on note-taking, study skills, and time management during the first weeks of the semester were ineffective; instead, a bridge program on these topics prior to the start of classes was more effective. The selection interview and the bridge program are used to identify potential areas of concern (academic or personal); these concerns are addressed through careful assignment of mentors and tutors and through sharing of critical information with the faculty mentor. Finally, the use of Super Tutors (students trained to tutor all 2-3 math/science courses being taken by a scholar) have allowed each scholar the flexibility to customize their tutoring needs each week. The scholars, expectedly, valued the flexibility; but unexpectedly, the close personal relationship that developed between the scholar and the Super Tutor was cited as one of the most important factors contributing to the scholar’s success and retention. Our discoveries have changed how we mentor our students in general, and we have observed a halo effect among students not in the PERSIST program. Supported by NSF DUE-0807107.