Skip to main content

News and Media

Open Main MenuClose Main Menu

Strengthening their roots: College of Arts and Sciences hosts STEM preparatory program for incoming freshmen

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Media Contact: Elizabeth Gosney | CAS Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-7497 |

The Oklahoma State University College of Arts and Sciences hosted its first Summer STEM Academy in July, welcoming 26 incoming first-year students to participate in programming designed to better prepare them to enter their STEM majors.  

Before enrolling in classes for the semester, admitted students must take the math ALEKS test to find the appropriate level course for their major and knowledge. Students whose scores fell below the threshold to enroll in college algebra were invited to participate in the Summer STEM Academy, which is designed to help them boost their score.  

“Dean Garbutt, Assistant Dean Amy Martindale and myself realized that OSU could do a better job preparing our students to enter STEM degree programs,” said Dr. Andrew Doust, CAS associate dean for academic programs. “Dean Garbutt and I wrote a proposal to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for money for this program and a host of other improvements to teaching. 

“When we really looked at the problem of student preparation, we realized that math was the key, and that there were a significant number of students who could not get into what is essentially the first course in many STEM disciplines: college algebra.” 

Students moved into OSU housing on July 23 and began their courses the next morning. In addition to math courses, participants also attended lab experiences, field trips and professional development workshops. 

“For two and a half weeks, these not-quite-freshmen worked extremely hard and developed lasting friendships,” said Jennifer Conner, CAS coordinator of student engagement. “They dedicated their time each day to academics. In the evenings and on weekends, they relaxed with field trips and social events hosted by peer mentors.” 

Beyond just strengthening math skills, the program aimed to immerse students in the sciences at OSU through collaborations with departments within CAS and across campus.  

“The program was designed to build and fortify math skills by having the students go to math class every morning and complete math group work in the afternoon, which was followed by a STEM experience,” said Martha Halihan, chemistry lab coordinator and Summer STEM Academy faculty coordinator. “We had lab experiences from microbiology, geology, physics, chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, integrative biology, veterinary medicine, plant biology, animal science and nutrition. We did field trips to Insect Adventure, the OSU Botanic Gardens and Science Museum Oklahoma.” 

Twenty-one of the 26 students who participated achieved higher test scores and were ultimately placed into college algebra.  

“Beyond their test scores, these students have formed a bond,” Doust said. “They are participating in activities on campus, including the CAS STEM Club. They were much better prepared than the average freshman to navigate the unfamiliar space of the college environment. Plus, they had lots of fun!” 

The program comes after the launch of the CAS-sponsored STEM Living Learning Program, which allows STEM majors to live, study and socialize with other STEM students. The Summer STEM Academy will return next summer and will expand to accommodate 100 students.  

“In our post-program experience survey, 92.9% of respondents said they felt more confident in their math skills after completing Summer STEM Academy,” Conner said. “For me, personally, one of the most meaningful statistics I can point to is that at the end of our program, 100% of our participants said they feel they belong here at OSU.”

Story By: Erin Weaver, CAS Communications Coordinator |

Back To Top
SVG directory not found.