Students on a geology field trip

Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Kapiʻolani Community College investigated the effectiveness of Kapiʻolani CC’s Summer Bridge program in diversifying undergraduate enrollment by encouraging STEM students to pursue further education in geosciences.

UH Mānoa’s Barbara Bruno, Johanna Wren, Jessica Ayau, Sherril Leon Soon, Heidi Needham, Elisha Wood-Charlson, Anela Choy and Kapiʻolani CC’s Keolani Noa published “Summer Bridge Program Establishes Nascent Pipeline to Expand and Diversify Hawaiʻi’s Undergraduate Geoscience En­rollment” in the Oceanography magazine.

The Kapiʻolani CC STEM Summer Bridge Program brings together high school students, college student peer mentors and college faculty to help students prepare for the rigors of college math and science. There are two tracks—HāKilo (ecology) or ʻIKE (engineering) that feature learning and work opportunities in these fields each afternoon. Over the summer, students not only learn about college, they also explore the relevance of modern science and engineering to sustainability and Hawaiʻi’s past, present and future.

Students investigating a tree

Students on a field trip

Evaluating the program

To evaluate program efficacy, the researchers developed a nine-question survey to measure familiarity with geoscience majors, perceptions about geoscience, self-efficacy and desire to pursue geoscience majors and careers. Sixty-four students participated in the program over a three-year period. Approximately two-thirds of students are from groups that are underrepresented in STEM and approximately one-third are Native Hawaiian. Only a small number of these students expressed interest in geoscience majors prior to program participation, and many were not even aware that geoscience majors existed.

By the end of the weeklong program, the students showed learning gains on all nine questions, and eight of these gains were statistically significant. To date, five summer bridge alumni (four Native Hawaiian) have declared geoscience majors, representing 31 percent of UH Mānoa’s Native Hawaiian geoscience enrollment. This suggests that partnering with a minority-serving community college may be an effective, time-efficient way of increasing minority enrollment in geoscience majors.

Read the full article (PDF) at the Oceanography website.

UH News video on the Summer Bridge Program