Developing a STEM Curriculum for Early College Programs: A High School to College Continuum

  • Raphan, Theodore (PI)
  • Gurwitz, Chaya C.B. (CoPI)
  • Raphan, Theodore T. (CoPI)
  • Axen, Kathleen K.V. (CoPI)
  • Perdikaris, Sophia S. (CoPI)
  • Basil, Jennifer J. (CoPI)
  • Sklar, Elizabeth E.I. (CoPI)

Project Details


Interdisciplinary (99)

The focus of the proposed project is to develop STEM curricula for early college high school programs. These are educationally innovative programs working to develop a seamless curriculum that will take students from high school through college in six to seven years rather than using the standard model where students attend high school and then college. A smooth transition from high school to college works to retain a broader population through the STEM pipeline. This project is a complement to the Early College High School Initiative that began in 2002 and is supported by a partnership of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. This initiative plans to establish 180 early college high schools nationwide by 2008. This CCLI project is starting the development of STEM curricula that are critical to the success of joint high school - college education programs in STEM. New STEM curricula are anticipated to facilitate the process of scaling up the Early College High School Initiative to larger populations and broader demographics. Curriculum development is stressing multi-disciplinary perspectives and technology-enhancements that build on standard high school science and math courses while introducing students to college-level work. The feasibility of offering broad inter-disciplinary scientific subjects to students in early stages of academic development is also being explored. The materials being developed are at the freshman college level and designed explicitly for an under-prepared population. The materials reflect up-to-date science, capture the essence of our investigators' research areas, and yet remain accessible enough to transfer to other instructors' classrooms. We are piloting this curriculum at the recently established Science, Technology, and Research (STAR) Early College High School at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, NY. The learning materials and teaching strategies being developed are directed at three aspects of student learning: (1) developmental: a gentle transition plan gradually eases students into academically-oriented college classroom settings, structure, workload and levels of expectation; (2) academic: a tightly-knit set of interdisciplinary topics carefully integrates standard science and math curricula, advancing in sophistication as students progress; and (3) motivational: application of proven pedagogical methods and a mentoring program linking the students in early college program with undergraduate and graduate STEM majors provides the high school students with the tools and role models to inspire careers in the sciences. The intellectual merit of the proposed project lies in (1) the unique blend of interdisciplinary topics designed to pique students' curiosity and demonstrate practical applications of standard STEM topics, (2) the use of technology throughout our curriculum, (3) the structured approach that gradually integrates academic material to help at-risk students make the transition to college level work, and (4) the development of courses uniquely targeted to the high school-college transition. The broader impacts of the proposed project involve not only the opportunity to enhance the college experience of a single inner-city, at-risk student population, but also to provide for other colleges freshman-level curricula that have been thoroughly researched, developed, tested and evaluated.

Effective start/end date15/05/0730/04/12


  • National Science Foundation: $149,966.00


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