Cohorts and Learning Communities

step cohorts

 Dr. Butt and students

Dr. Steven Butt, STEP faculty mentor, poses with members of his STEP cohort.

STEP cohorts serve as the starting point of support for incoming College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) freshmen. In Fall 2015, 98 percent of incoming CEAS students were placed in cohorts of 15–25 students based on math placement and major. These students take the same 3 to 5 courses together in fall semester and 2 to 4 courses together in spring semester. As students begin their first semester they start to notice familiar faces in each of their classes and start to form natural study groups. 

STEP partners with the CEAS advising office to build manageable schedules for each student cohort during summer orientation. Some students may be ineligible for a STEP cohort if they are in the marching band or WMU athletics due to time constraints, although many times exceptions can be made. Students who have a lot of AP or IB credits may also have difficulty with placement if their incoming math level is high. Students not placed in a STEP cohort will still have access to all success programs and resources associated with STEP. Students can also opt out of a STEP cohort during summer orientation if they desire.

Each cohort is lead by a STEP faculty or staff mentor. Some  mentors serve as the instructor for the cohort’s anchor class. A few, due to major, do not have an anchor course, however they still have a STEP mentor.  In addition to providing academic guidance, the mentors organize co-curricular activities to help students learn about the STEM professions. STEP mentors meet monthly to share the needs of each student population so help can be dispatched via STEP. Fall welcome groups are built based on the STEP cohorts so students can begin meeting other students in their group during their first week at WMU, even before classes start.

Pictured above is Dr. Steven Butt, STEP faculty mentor and professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management. Dr. Butt mentors students with an undecided CEAS major. His anchor class for STEP is so popular with students, his class had perfect attendance for the past two years!

 learning communities

Move in dayLearning communities are an opportunity for Western Michigan University students to live in a hall or on a floor with peers who share similar interests, schedules, or majors. They help facilitate study groups, social connections, and exposure to a more seamless university experience.  The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) learning communities have additional support like the STEP Student Success Center (SSC) for free academic tutoring and special engineering related programming. Students are not required to live in the community, but many students enjoy the advantage of people pursuing the same major living around them.

The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences supports two WMU learning communities including Engineering House and Lee Honors College based communities. Students who are both a part of the Lee Honors College and CEAS can choose the Honors–Engineering community. The Honors–Engineering and Engineering House learning communities will be located in adjacent halls, in Eldridge/Fox. This will make it easier for students to choose since they will both be in close proximity to all CEAS programming and our largest STEP tutoring center (SSC).

How do i sign up for a community

NSBE student society membersDuring the online sign-up process, you will be asked to select a living learning community if you are interested in living in one. Simply select your preferred community and indicate the residence hall it’s located in as your first-choice building. Space is limited after May 15, so list an additional three residence hall preferences.

Current WMU students interested in living in a learning community should come to the Residence Life office to sign up.