One-Year Research Experience for Associate’s Degree Students Impacts Graduation, STEM Retention, and Transfer Patterns

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The CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP) provides a yearlong faculty-mentored research experience to associate’s degree students. The program takes place at all 10 associate’s degree–granting colleges within the City University of New York system. We report on a mixed-methods study of 500 students who participated in the program during its initial 3 years. Quantitative longitudinal assessments revealed that students who engaged in CRSP were more likely to be retained in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) discipline or to graduate with a STEM degree than their counterparts in a matched comparison group. Furthermore, students who participated in CRSP demonstrated an increased likelihood of transferring to the more research-intensive 4-year schools within the CUNY system and to R1 universities outside the CUNY system. CRSP students reported an increased sense of belonging in college based on survey data, and focus groups with their mentors provided insight into the factors that led to the gains listed above. These combined results—of student data analysis, student surveys, and mentor focus groups—provide evidence that early research experiences for associate’s degree students contribute to their academic success.

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