Retention Strategies

TLSAMP Activities and Efforts Impacting Undergraduate STEM Student Success  and Graduate School Preparation

Summer Bridge allows students to transition from high school to college easily.  Mathematics, science, programming, language, and communication skills are enhanced during the summer.  Most tutorial programs have been institutionalized across the Alliance.

Peer Mentoring includes upper class students, peer mentors, who serve as a resource, a helping hand, a sounding board, and a referral service for freshman and sophomore students. Peer mentors provide support, encouragement, and information to lower class STEM students who are in the beginning stage of their undergraduate program

Research for juniors and seniors and high performing sophomores allow students to work with faculty on on-going research projects at the alliance institutions.  Students identify the faculty advisor and ask to be a part of the faculty’s research. The faculty serves as a mentor for the student, providing them with technical research skills and preparing and motivating them to pursue graduate studies in STEM related fields. 

Tutorial Services are tutorial programs that are coordinated each semester to assist students with academic difficulties.  Most tutorial programs have been institutionalized across the Alliance.

Seminars/Workshops are typically monthly meetings where information about academic, scientific, professional or technical information is provided.  Seminar topics include Professional Development, Time Management, Internships, Entrepreneurship, Career Development, Academic Success and Graduate Studies, and etc.

Curriculum Reform is a vital component of any retention program.  To improve retention and graduation rates, the undergraduate curriculum in each STEM is reviewed periodically (every two years) to ensure that the students are exposed to the latest technologies and educational resources.  STEM department curriculum committees are responsible for initiating changes associated with their findings. 

Gate-Keeping Courses Success Strategies: Retention of STEM students in courses that are roadblocks is essential for the success of TLSAMP.  The purposes of the Gate-keeping courses initiative to assist students  having difficulty with those courses that are roadblocks to upper level courses.  This critical program component seeks to increase student performance levels in "Gate-keeping" and related coureses.  Identified Gate-Keeping courses include:

  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Calculus III
  • Physics I
  • Chemistry I
  • Chemistry II
  • Biology I
  • Biology II 

Strategies are developed and implemented to ensure the student’s success that include:  faculty early-alert  (beginning with the first 3-weeks of each term) assessment  of student performance; faculty, TLSAMP STEM coordinator intervention methods to that include faculty to direct student to necessary academic and other support resources (tutoring, supplemental instruction, counseling, etc); and followup with faculty and student to ascertain if student performance has improved by mid-semester. The expectations of the the Gate-Keeping Course Strategies are 1) STEM students's success in the Gate-keeping services initiative program will be an encouragement to other students that strive to succeed in these courses but need assistance; and 2) The academic performance of STEM students will be improved as indicated and measured  by Gate-keeping courses grade distribution data.

Supplemental Instructions are given in some classes.  Academic support offering free regularly scheduled study sessions make it easier for students to transition out of selected difficult courses.

Graduate School Transitions:  One of our objectives is to ensure that more students attend graduate school.  The following activities are implemented to make it easier for undergraduate students to transition into graduate programs.

Faculty Mentoring is intended to improve graduation rates of STEM students and increase the number of students interested in and pursuing graduate school.  This initiative requires that STEM faculty identify at least one undergraduate STEM student for mentoring to include professional and research training.

Faculty Development is an ongoing program aimed at positively impacting graduate rates of STEM students as result of faculty being exposed to new and innovative teaching and mentoring methods.  This program requires that all faculty members participate in faculty development activities on an annual basis.  The department chairperson, in conjunction with the faculty member, will decide on the sort of development program needed for that faculty member.


Improving Teaching/Learning Culture is an initiative designed to improve the graduation rates of STEM students.  The requirements of this initiative is for all STEM faculty members to adopt new and innovative teaching/learning methods in at least one course each semester.  This can included, but is not limited to technology and web-based instruction or other methods.


GRE Prep Workshops:  As part of the graduate school preparation process, GRE prep workshops are offered across the alliance and made available to STEM students

Scientific and Professional Conferences are valuable in allowing students the platform to present their research work and to interact and network with other students and professionals in research fields of interest.  Conference also are valuable in exposing students to REU, internship. and graduate school opportunities.

Interactions with AGEP and other NSF funded programs allow STEM students to consider and explore fellowship support opportunities and options for graduate school training.

Alliance-wide Programs 

TLSAMP Annual R esearch Conference

TLSAMP convenes an annual research conference each year that is hosted on a rotational basis throughout the Alliance.  Undergraduate student researchers engage in oral and poster presentations.  Additionally, a graduate school fair is hosted to enlighten undergraduates with opportunities to continue their education and encourage enrollment into graduate school.

TLSAMP International Research Program

Alliance STEM faculty members submit proposals to lead an international research experience.  The experience must last for at least four weeks and must involve TLSAMP students conducting research at foreign sites with appropriate foreign expert mentorship.  The research experience enables students to work within an established collaboration between the awardee of the proposal and a foreign collaborating research group.