Community College Research Initiatives

November 30, 2022

STEM Transfer Partnership: Advancing our Community

As we embark on the second year of the STEM Transfer Partnership (STP) initiative, we finally got our first chance to come together in person at our October convening in Ellensburg, Washington. Because our first convening had to be held remotely due to continuing pandemic precautions, we were thrilled to be able to finally meet everyone in person and make our community stronger through the informal exchanges that are difficult to facilitate in virtual settings.

The October event built upon all the previous work of the STP teams. It included celebrating progress since the April convening and moving forward within each partnership to advance interventions to engage and support low-income students and create innovative, durable transfer pathways. The teams presented a variety of different interventions they were working on. Many institutional pairs discussed new curricular structures while others described the steps they had taken in establishing undergraduate research experiences, creating transfer maps, mentorship networks, and inter-institutional student engagement programs. 

Highlights of the day included roundtable discussions across topics such as curriculum, data sharing, low-income student support, and gathering student input. We also learned about STEM communities of transformation from our guest speaker, Dr. Sean Gehrke, Director of the Office of Educational Assessment at the University of Washington. Working in their teams, partnerships had opportunities to identify and dissect current barriers to their work and develop strategies to garner external support for their programs. Each team produced a poster that summarized and motivated their partnership initiatives, articulating an “elevator pitch” designed to engage stakeholders outside their partnership. We concluded the day with a lively ‘gallery walk,’ where teams shared their posters and their elevator pitch among all the convening participants. 

One of the key goals of this convening was to foster a cross-partnership exchange of ideas and community building. To that end, the convening agenda balanced sessions dedicated to work within teams and in ones that involved interaction with other teams. Teams had opportunities to brainstorm creative solutions with other teams and learn about the many different strategies for low-income student support and enhanced transfer processes. For many participants, this dynamic was the key benefit of the convening. One post-event survey respondent commented, “It was really nice just to meet people who are interested in similar things across the state and feel like we have allies.” Another respondent identified their key benefit from the convening, “Having a community to consult with and bounce ideas off of – we are able to streamline a bit more, not everyone re-inventing the wheel. Having engaging discussions about why this is important and creating that community culture.” We were excited to see and later hear about these productive exchanges and will continue to strengthen and expand our community of practice.

We are so gratified to be a part of this process, working with dedicated professionals who took time out of their overcrowded schedules to come together in community with us. Together we are advancing equity by expanding STEM education opportunities for low-income students across the state.