FirstSTEP: A preliminary review of the effects of a summer bridge program on pre-college STEM majors

  • Joan M. Raines
Keywords: mathematics, bridge programs


More emphasis should be placed on what can be done to help encourage and prepare students choosing STEM-based majors to enter college, be successful, and graduate. Summer bridge programs can provide pre-college experiences to help attract and retain future STEM majors by exposing them to experiences they would encounter in college math and science coursework along with increasing their academic preparedness. The FirstSTEP summer bridge program at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) was developed to address mathematics deficiencies through structured mathematics instruction, peer-led learning, individualized study plans, and exposure to STEM applications of mathematics. This study was undertaken to preliminarily examine the effects of the two week program on academic achievement and retention of at-risk STEM majors during their first year at MTSU. The results of this study suggest that student participation in the FirstSTEP summer bridge program positively impacted academic performance and persistence rates of the students involved. The mathematics instruction participants received in the summer appeared to benefit these students in their college mathematics course and survey findings indicated students seemed to have positive reactions to the summer bridge program.