1. Jason Deibel
  2. https://people.wright.edu/jason.deibel
  3. Dept. Chair and Assoc. Professor
  5. Wright State University
  1. Meredith Rodgers
  2. Senior Lecturer
  4. Wright State University
  1. Adrienne Traxler
  2. https://people.wright.edu/adrienne.traxler
  3. Assistant Professor
  5. Wright State University

WSU Students ASK: A Success & Scholarship Program for Students Applying Scien...

NSF Awards: 1742339

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)


The Applying Scientific Knowledge (ASK) program involves second-year students in research, while also supporting many of them through S-STEM scholarships. Wright State University is a regional commuter school with students who come from diverse educational pathways. All College of Science and Mathematics majors can apply to the ASK program. Those who are accepted take a research methods course, building academic friendships along the way, then work in teams on two-semester projects proposed by faculty from across the college. Students earn course credit toward their degrees while contributing to larger projects in research laboratories across campus. The ASK program is designed to lower barriers and invite students into the scientific community, improving STEM retention and building their future careers.

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Original Discussion from the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Jason Deibel

    Jason Deibel

    Lead Presenter
    Dept. Chair and Assoc. Professor
    May 13, 2019 | 02:15 a.m.

    Hello everyone! My name is Jason Deibel. I am the Chair of the Physics Department at Wright State University (Dayton, OH) and am part of a team of 3 faculty that lead a college-based early career undergraduate research program that is funded in part by the National Science Foundation S-STEM program. We were inspired by extremely successful first-year research programs such as the FRI programs at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Maryland, and SUNY Binghampton. While our goals are similar to those programs i.e. increase student retention, graduation rates, content mastery, scientific identity, etc., our student population at Wright State is very different compared to the aforementioned institutions.  Our students come from a wide variety of academic and family backgrounds, bringing with them challenges such as being first-generation, commuters, financial/work burdens, and insufficient academic preparation. In order to insure the quality and impact of the undergraduate research experience, student participants must first demonstrate successful completion of two gateway courses in their major discipline. 

    Our goal is to demonstrate that early engagement in undergraduate research coupled with long-term intensive academic and career mentoring can affect positive impacts across multiple STEM student success parameters among our student population.

    We hope that you enjoy our video. We look forward to hearing feedback and your thoughts.

    Take care,

    Jason Deibel, Meredith Rodgers, and Adrienne Traxler

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    May 14, 2019 | 12:01 p.m.

    A very engaging video, and you packed a lot in! I know this is early days yet, but are you seeing positive change "across multiple STEM student success parameters among our student population"?

    Meanwhile, I am curious what the participating faculty are having to learn about how best to mentor these students?  How have you selected the faculty that are participating?  And are they receiving any incentives from the university for their participation, or is that irrelevant? 


  • Icon for: Meredith Rodgers

    Meredith Rodgers

    May 15, 2019 | 10:26 a.m.

    Brian, the faculty are from our college that request students from the program, they submit project proposals to the program outlining projects they have available.  The faculty we work with for the most part have had experience mentoring undergraduates in the past. We are also developing a mentoring training program using HHMI curriculum that our faculty mentors, or even their post docs or graduate students that work with our students attend that covers mentoring undergraduates.  Through our NSF S-STEM grant, we are awarding 14 of our participants a tuition scholarship that also includes a small amount toward supplies toward their project, so there is some incentive for faculty in that sense, however many faculty will take on students who are not supported on this scholarship. We are also offering a handful of summer fellowships to our scholarship recipients which better allows them to spend more time in the lab during summer term.

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    May 14, 2019 | 11:37 p.m.

    Thank you for preparing and submitting this video. It highlights nicely your important work through the S-STEM program and how you are tailoring it to fit the needs of Wright State students. 

    The questions I had have already been posed by Brian Drayton. I'm also curious to know how you will actually measure learning gains by these students. Which students will serve as matched controls? Since the video indicates that students are selected for the program, am I correct in assuming that they need to submit an application of some kind? If so, then a reasonable comparison might be between those students who applied and were accepted to the program vs. students who applied and weren't accepted. 

  • Icon for: Adrienne Traxler

    Adrienne Traxler

    May 16, 2019 | 10:24 a.m.

    Thanks for the questions! Measuring learning gains for the research topic in a standardized way is tough, because by nature the work is so individual to the project/lab. What we can do (and are starting to compile data for) is to track semester-level data on course outcomes, progress toward degree, etc. Through our institutional research office, we can get that information about the rest of their major cohort. There isn't an equivalently-sized sample of students who applied to ASK, were otherwise identical, but were not admitted to the program, so we can't do matched controls exactly, but we can look for things like matched GPA at the start of the second year (when ASK starts).

  • Icon for: Ivory Toldson

    Ivory Toldson

    May 15, 2019 | 12:20 p.m.

    Hello All! My name is Ivory Toldson, professor at Howard University, president of Quality Education for Minorities, and one of the facilitators for the STEM for All Video Showcase. The conversation is off to a great start and I will be chiming in with my own input this afternoon and over the next few days. I'm excited about what we can achieve for the next generation of STEM learners!

  • May 15, 2019 | 04:00 p.m.

    I love the sequential introduction to research that ASK uses. What years do the students begin the sequence? Can they take breaks during the sequence if they study abroad or there is some other unforeseen circumstance?  To what extent, if at all, are students learning about how to navigate mentoring relationships? 


  • Icon for: Meredith Rodgers

    Meredith Rodgers

    May 15, 2019 | 05:36 p.m.

    Jason, typically students are recruited during their first year and begin the program fall term of their second year.  That first term is a course, Scientific Inquiry, that covers a lot of research basics including mentoring relationships and lab culture, as we have also a lot of diversity in the types of labs that they might enter as well. They also have a peer mentor who is an upper classman who has previously been involved themselves as a resource for questions or concerns. That peer mentor is available to them at all times.  As for flexibility, summer term is optional, and we can (and have) worked with them if something unforeseen arises. Thanks for the questions!

  • Icon for: Ivory Toldson

    Ivory Toldson

    May 15, 2019 | 04:35 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing this video. I found the content was very comprehensive and you seem to have greatly impacted your students. You noted that your project grants financial support and I am curious to know what efforts you have made to recruit high-needs student (those with from low income families) as well as student from diverse backgrounds.

  • Icon for: Judith Dilts

    Judith Dilts

    May 15, 2019 | 11:37 p.m.

    Thanks for your good work in helping students. I really like the sequencing of your program -- from gateway courses, to a research methods course, to 2 semesters of research. I noted that the 2 semesters of research are separated by summer -- do you have a way of keeping students engaged over that break? Also, do they write theses and make presentations to faculty and students in the program following the 2nd semester?

  • Icon for: Meredith Rodgers

    Meredith Rodgers

    May 16, 2019 | 08:29 a.m.

    Judith, they are not required to write a thesis at this point, however we are heavily encouraging presenting.  Our university has on-campus opportunities  during spring and fall to present which we highly promote, and we have had PIs take their students to national and international meetings as well to present.  For summer, some students use that time to work and then come back in the fall, others do stay over summer and continue their research to varying degrees of intensity.  Fellowship students are in the lab 28 hour/week, others are there less but still continuing over summer.  Much of our student population, however, needs time to work to some degree so the summer flexibility is necessary.

  • Icon for: Judith Dilts

    Judith Dilts

    May 16, 2019 | 04:52 p.m.

    Thank you!

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