New successful initiative for keeping students in STEM from University of Houston gets acclaim

student-biology-successTo improve students’ chances of completing introductory biology courses and decrease poor grades, the University of Houston (UH) implemented a comprehensive student success program, employing various interventions for students at risk for failure.

Through a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), the Department of Biology and Biochemistry embarked on a pilot program focusing on first-year students taking “General Biology” for non-majors and “Introductory Biology” for science majors. These two classes have high rates of students either making a D or F or dropping the course completely, with a 30 to 40 percent non-passing rate.

“Freshman-level biology courses have high enrollments and consistently have the highest non-completion and failure rates of all the department’s courses,” said Dan E. Wells, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and director of the program. “Through the Comprehensive Student Success Program, however, we are making strides toward turning this around. Our success to this point is due to the whole-hearted support and involvement of more than half of the biology and biochemistry faculty.”

(Next page: How the STEM program works)

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