Keywords: undergraduate, gender, disability, 1st generation
We report on results from RIT’s Project IMPRESS: Integrating Metacognitive Practices to Ensure Student Success, a 5-year NSF funded program to improve retention of first-generation and deaf/hard-of-hearing students in STEM disciplines. As part of IMPRESS, we have developed and taught a first-year course “Metacognitive Approaches to Scientific Inquiry.” The course, which satisfies the Institute’s Ethical Perspectives requirement, introduces students to a variety of metacognitive issues and practices including: developing a growth mindset; Bloom’s and Perry’s taxonomies for content and intellectual development; inaccuracy in self-assessment; lateral and longitudinal transfer of knowledge and experiences; and the benefits of self-reflection. Over 200 students in five years have taken the course, with very promising results. Retention of IMPRESS 1st-generation and DHH students into their 2nd, 3rd and 4th year are all above 80%, at or exceeding the institutional average. IMPRESS student demographics are inclusive: 35% are women; 32% from identities historically excluded from STEM disciplines; and 17% Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH). Retention results are consistent across these demographics.
In qualitative research focus groups students consistently report IMPRESS experiences as life-changing. Students recognize that issues and strategies learned in the class can be used in their other classes and that this class essentially teaches them “how to learn.” Students also report great appreciation for a class in which disciplinary faculty (as opposed to academic or student support staff) demonstrate meaningful care for students as humans. Additionally, a quantitative study comparing IMPRESS students with a matched group of non-IMPRESS 1st-generation/DHH students found that IMPRESS students were more likely to report satisfaction with their choice of RIT as an institution.
In this paper we describe the curricular innovations that comprise the foundations of the Metacognition course and the latest analyses of retention and student satisfaction.
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