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Three-Pronged Approach to STEM Success

CHEM 99D, the Science Advancement through Group Engagement Program (SAGE), and the Cardea Fellows program represent a three-pronged, overlapping approach to enhancing the success of incoming Duke students who have traditionally struggled the most in the STEM curriculum.

  1. As a response to the findings of an institutional assessment effort, a new course, CHEM 99D "Introduction to Chemistry and Chemical Problem Solving," was introduced four years ago to provide a first chemistry course for the small percentage (10-15%) but significant number (60-90) of Duke students who are interested in science but do not yet have the chemistry background or problem-solving skills needed for the more advanced gateway STEM courses. The course is taught in a hybrid format, featuring a mix of lecture and collaborative problem solving exercises, and it is being extended to other courses (such as organic chemistry) and disciplines (such as introductory biology).
  2. SAGE was developed by the Academic Resource Center (ARC) to increase the success of students in CHEM 99. Led by an upper-class peer mentor with a tight feedback loop to the ARC, the group engagement offers students the opportunity to engage in additional problem-solving exercises outside of class, while focusing on both course specific and broader learning skills. The SAGE Program continues to offer this support to these students as they move through their first two years of gateway chemistry and biology courses.
  3. The third prong is the Cardea Fellows program. Each year, Duke inducts into this prestigious fellowship eighteen pre-health students who place into CHEM 99. The Cardea Program fosters a vibrant intellectual and academic learning community. Although Cardea Fellows are required to participate in SAGE, they receive preferential advising, housing, and programming. They also take several courses together and form a cohort of strong students as they navigate the vertical science curriculum together. Results to date suggest that the combination of these approaches is indeed leveling the playing field and enhancing the success in STEM for this cohort of students.