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Advancing Equity Through a Winner-Take-All Challenge

After receiving a Powered by Publics competitive seed funding award last December, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Missouri University of Science and Technology, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology are working collaboratively to tackle campus-specific equity challenges over the coming two years.

Each campus is working to address equity gaps within the Powered by Publics Learning Hub areas of Affordability, Holistic Student Supports, and Teaching and Learning. Along the way, the institutions are tracking metrics across gender, ethnic, and economic equity to determine the institution with the greatest progress reducing student retention equity gaps by Fall 2023. The winning institution will receive a $30,000 prize. They’re also sharing learning with each other as the work progresses.

Each institution is tackling a campus-specific barrier contributing to equity gaps. Learn more about their work below.

University of Alabama in Huntsville
Analyzing data on which students who go on academic warning after their first semester, the University of Alabama in Huntsville found that underrepresented and low-income students were facing a disproportionate share of challenges. To help address this equity gap, the university is holding workshops helping participating students establish good study habits, time management skills, and a growth mindset as they return for a new semester. The workshops, which are held in the first few weeks of class, are followed by targeted communications to participating students throughout the semester with the ultimate aim of addressing equity gaps in retention and graduation and boosting student success.

Missouri University of Science and Technology
Finding that low-income and students from underrepresented backgrounds were experiencing lower recruitment, retention, and graduation outcomes, Missouri S&T is advancing a host of efforts to better meet students’ needs. This includes investing in holistic student supports such as a robust advising center, the use of chatbots to monitor student progress and wellbeing more closely, and increased attention to addressing barriers to success in courses with high rates of students earning a D or F grade or withdrawing from a course altogether.

New Jersey Institute of Technology
Working to increase to advance equity, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is using a variety of approaches to boost the success for low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students. This includes increasing recruitment of students from underrepresented groups in the STEM fields, addressing courses that are common stumbling blocks on students’ path to a degree, and increasing supports for students underrepresented in STEM fields.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is leveraging mentoring to address equity gaps on campus with particular emphasis on providing needed support for first-generation students or those from underrepresented backgrounds. Through the mentoring program, first-year students make connections with each other, their peer mentor, department faculty through department-specific curricular and extra-curricular events. They also receive support through the university’s Women in Science and Engineering and Student Success Centers. Mentors are closely connected with all new student processes and continue to provide both academic and social support throughout the year, acting as ad hoc tutors, checking in on mentees, and organizing small group activities like pizza and game night.

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