Merit-Based Immersion for Students and Teachers: The MIST Model for Increasing STEM Involvement and Graduation

  • Zimmerman, Steven (PI)
  • Kelter, Paul P.B. (CoPI)
  • Lisy, J. M. (CoPI)
  • Raineri, Deanna D.M. (CoPI)
  • Hickox, Tracey T.E. (CoPI)
  • Mcneilly, Jennifer J. (CoPI)
  • Adams, Gretchen G. (CoPI)

Project Details


This project is focusing on recruiting and retaining students in biology, chemistry, and mathematics, and is broadening the STEM student base to include the large proportion of students who have not declared their major. The target population consists of students who have high potential, but are at risk, and who are from among traditionally under-represented students as well as rural students.

This Merit-Based Immersion for Students and Teachers (MIST) project is building on and expanding the Merit-style program of facilitated group learning. Merit-style teaching consists of using a highly trained facilitator-instructor to stimulate student-student interactions by providing challenging problem sets or other activities for the students. The facilitator provides feedback as the students work together in small groups, and also encourages everyone in the group to interact and discuss each student's strategies.

Intellectual Merit: The project team is developing carefully structured suites of concept-based activities for students and teachers to help a wide variety of students succeed in college-level mathematics and science courses. In addition the overall project effort is contributing to advancing the knowledge base related to (1) understanding the role of higher education in improving learning and (2) recruiting and retaining students from diverse target populations. Success of the MIST program is externally evaluated by monitoring and assessing (a) the increase in the number and rate of graduation of students in the target population in the various STEM fields, (b) the competence of the graduate students who are trained via the MIST model, and (c) the extent to which the MIST program is implemented in the schools and colleges in which professional workshop participants teach.

Broader Impacts: An important component of the project is to expand the MIST model to a broader audience - including high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities - via a series of intensive workshops, graduate student training, a companion Website, presentations at conferences, and peer-reviewed publications. A summer workshop program is being provided to train facilitators from other institutions across the country to implement the program at their home institutions to help improve the success rate of a diverse student population in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and other STEM disciplines. The most current MIST program materials and evaluation reports are available on the project Website, and are being disseminated in print and at conferences for the benefit of other organizations. The Website resource also includes information for prospective students and their parents.

Effective start/end date1/01/0731/12/13


  • National Science Foundation


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