STEM Core Model

STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

The STEM Core vision is to create a pathway bringing students, including underrepresented and underprepared students, to a foundational skill level required for A.S., B.S., and industry employment in STEM fields.  In our NSF INCLUDES Alliance efforts, we reach out to groups that are in underrepresented in STEM fields in order to achieve the goal of increasing diversity and productivity in the Nation's STEM workplace.

The STEM Core is an educational model for community colleges that uses a cohort-based, accelerated and contextualized math course sequence to move students from intermediate algebra to calculus-readiness in two semesters. The model is built upon five best practices:

  • Accelerated and contextualized learning
    Students are placed in a program that includes 3-4 math courses over 2 semesters encompassing intermediate algebra through pre-calculus, co-developed by math, engineering and computer science faculty to integrate academic and applied learning. Research shows that accelerated strategies such as this are an effective learning strategy, particularly at the lower levels of math.
  • STEM technical skills training
    Students will participate in workshops and/or classes that provide an introduction to computer science and/or engineering through hands-on, project-based learning while also reflecting academic applications from linked math coursework in order to meet employer skill demands;
  • Block-scheduled, cohort-based learning communities
    STEM Core students will move through the program as a cohort, jointly experiencing academic, technical and work-based learning opportunities, which increases retention of remedial students by promoting peer learning, teamwork, self-efficacy, and study skill development;
  • Wraparound academic and social support
    STEM Core cohorts will be provided with a Student Support Specialist dedicated to student success. The Student Support Specialist will sit in on classes, meet individually with students to set goals and address issues impeding their success, facilitate study skill workshops, convene faculty, and facilitate work-based learning opportunities including employer field trips, guest speakers, and internships; and, 
  • Paid industry internships
    Research supports a connection between internships and STEM participation and retention, and STEM Core model implementers believe internship experiences are critical to building a STEM pipeline. Current internship partners include Lawrence Livermore National Labs and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with many more partners becoming involved every year.