The ultimate goal of my final project is to bring attention to the consequences weed-out-style courses have on student performance (and student retention) in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Weed-out courses are normally very large (in Biology, mine had around 750 students) and are often a student’s first experience with an undergraduate-level course. It is common for many students to fail and this poor performance is almost always attributed to the student, when outdated course formats built to serve “traditional” students should likely bear more of the weight.
Currently I am planning to write a paper that reviews the known consequences of weed-out courses, provides tested examples of more inclusive/successful STEM course formats, and serves as a call to action for more STEM departments to make the change.
Originally I wanted to work with the Biology Department at CCNY to apply some of the ideas published by scientists working in early STEM education, but have decided that it may be of greater use to try to spend my energy casting a wider net. I hope this paper helps influence academic administrators to start making changes to better serve students, even if they are small.