LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More students at the University of Louisville who aspire to careers in science and health will have support for success in key classes thanks to a $2.4 million gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation. The new grant will fund in-class peer support to improve student performance in math and science courses needed to pursue degree programs in science, technology, engineering, math, and health (STEM+H).
The grant will help UofL increase early student success in five College of Arts & Sciences courses in math, biology, and chemistry – all required for many STEM+H degree programs – that traditionally have high rates of grade D, failure, and withdrawal (DFW). Low grades or failing these courses can lead students to abandon the STEM+H fields, take longer to graduate, or leave UofL altogether.
The effort builds on student-success programs already in place at UofL through the Resources for Academic Achievement (REACH) unit. It will place advanced undergraduate, peer-level structured learning assistants (SLAs) within the classrooms of the five College of Arts & Sciences courses in math, biology, and chemistry.
The SLAs will work with instructors to engage small groups of students within the classrooms to help them better understand the material and prepare for assignments.
REACH director Geoff Bailey said the SLAs will help students break down concepts and apply information using critical thinking exercises.
The JGBF grant will train and support the SLAs from any undergraduate major with hourly wages and tuition stipends. Based on projected enrollment, Bailey expects to hire 59 students for these positions to support classes beginning in the Spring 2022 semester.
Students hired for the program must have earned an A or B in the class they will assist, have good communication skills, and be approved by a faculty member for this role. The SLAs also will benefit from participation as peer mentors, gaining resume-building experience in small-group leadership by helping early college students develop classroom success skills.
Students may apply for SLA positions at the REACH SLA web page.
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