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Frequently Asked Questions


What is STEP/STEM?
Who is involved in STEP?
Are the STEP and WMU First-Year Experience the same?
What is a learning community?
How does the learning community help?


What is STEP/STEM?

STEM

This stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines.

STEP

This stands for STEM Talent Expansion Program. This is the official program name at Western Michigan University.




Who is involved in STEP?

A cross-disciplinary committee of faculty, administrators, and advisors from STEM areas that helped develop the original concepts in 2004. The program is funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant dedicated to restructuring the first-year experiences of STEM students. Department chairs, faculty and students together plan yearly events that students will be participating in.




Are the STEP and WMU First-Year Experience the same?

No -- and yes. Both programs have similar goals: to ease the transition into the university and improve the chances for success. STEP is specifically targeted towards STEM students who have a unique curriculum. We are independent from the FYE Program and separately funded by the National Science Foundation.




What is a learning community?

Traditionally, the first year of college poses the greatest challenge to students majoring in STEM disciplines. By placing students with similar career goals in predetermined clusters of required courses, it is the intention of WMU-STEP that they will meet, study, and network with fellow students in the same classes. Learning community activities include tutoring, mentoring by STEM faculty, and career counseling.




How does the learning community help?

Studies show students who actively participate in learning community activities have a higher success rate in making the transition from high school to college, completing the first year of study, and graduating with STEM degrees. Since the program’s first year in 2004, there has been a steady increase in retention of the students.

 

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0969287.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.