What happens when you bring institutional leaders from 10 campuses together to exchange ideas about student success? That’s exactly what the OASIS Network was designed to see.

Queens College recently received a $5.6 million federal grant (over five years) to increase the number of Hispanic students in STEM-related fields and to smooth transfer student transitions. Instead of following the status quo or relying on what they have always done, administrators at Queens drew on the ideas they received from their OASIS colleagues to formulate the proposal for that project.

Based on shared practices and resources developed through the OASIS network in the last 10 months, Queens administrators knew that redesigning coursework and assignments should top the list of to-do’s, alongside developing improved tools for tracking student progress to degree. They looked at one of the metrics we track in the OASIS network — DFW (drop, fail, withdraw) rates — to identify where students were successful and where they were not. And they confirmed that entry-level STEM courses reflected the lowest rates of success for students, delaying time to graduation and possibly even preventing students from choosing a STEM discipline as their major. Queens administrators say they will spend the new funds at Queens College and at Queensborough Community College (Queens’ largest source of transfer students) to redesign these courses, which serve as the foundation for all STEM-related majors.

Administrators are also taking a closer look at students who have enrolled but haven’t declared a major. After studying retention rates among students with undeclared majors — a tip exchanged at a previous OASIS network meeting — administrators saw many of these students aren’t sticking around. They’re working now to identify programs and supports that will not only keep these students enrolled, but also help them declare a major earlier (perhaps in STEM!).

California State University, Fullerton — another OASIS member — also received the same federal grant, so officials at Queens College are looking forward to exchanging ideas and potential plans for collaboration at our network meeting this month. We’re excited to see what develops.

Photo credit: Queens College