The First2Network is a major National Science Foundation funded project aimed at solving the problem of college students leaving STEM majors after their first or second year.
West Virginia, and the Nation need more STEM professionals, but completing a STEM course of study can be challenging. The First2Network is a growing group of professors, state officials and students like you who want to improve persistence in STEM during the first two years of college. Our focus is on first generation college students, and we are currently are developing program activities to ensure that they achieve success.
- Among these are early research experiences. We aim to develop STEM self-efficacy, and motivation in FGC students through early participation in authentic STEM experiences beginning just as they enter post-secondary education. We are piloting two-week summer research internships for 35 rising college freshmen. The internships will take place in summer, 2017 at Fairmont State University, and the the Green Bank Observatory;
- We are also developing online modules to build STEM skills and the “soft skills” students need to master to successfully navigate post-secondary school. We plan to pilot test these during the 2017/2018 academic year. We hope that these modules will be useful to faculty across the state;
- Finally, we will develop capacity of FGC student leadership and mentorship, in which we create a community of practice where peer mentors mentor younger students, and we’ll pathways for peer mentors to affect greater change through outreach to their hometown communities.
A second goal is to articulate a rigorous educational research project aimed at advancing understanding of the factors affecting rural students’ entry into and persistence in STEM career pathways.
Work that we are doing now, will, we hope, lead to significant funding in a second stage of the project.
If you are interested in building a better environment for STEM students in West Virginia two and four year schools, please join our network. Click on the “Contact” link above, and we’ll get right back to you.
If you are a West Virginia high school student (or non traditional student about to start college) who will be a First Generation Student majoring in a STEM course of study in the Fall of 2017, click the Student Opportunity Link to learn more!