Title page for ETD etd-03182009-110204

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Wischusen, Sheri Maples
Author's Email Address sheri@lsu.edu
URN etd-03182009-110204
Title BIOS: A One-Week Pre-Freshman Biology "Boot Camp" as a Tool to Increase Student Success and Retention in the Biological Sciences Major
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Human Resource Education Workforce Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael F. Burnett Committee Chair
Geraldine H. Johnson Committee Member
Krisanna Machtmes Committee Member
Satish Verma Committee Member
Pamela Bourne Blanchard Dean's Representative
  • metacognition
  • study skills
  • STEM pipeline
Date of Defense 2009-03-13
Availability unrestricted
The Biology Intensive Orientation for Students (BIOS) Program was designed to assess the impact of a five-day intensive pre-freshman program on success and retention of biological science majors at a large research university. The program combined content lectures and examinations for the Introductory Biology course for Science Majors, as well as learning styles assessments and informational sessions to provide the students with a preview of the requirements of biology, and the pace of college. Students were tracked following their BIOS participation. In the pilot year of the program the BIOS participants performed significantly better on the first and second exams, had a higher course average, and had a higher final grade than the control group. These students also had higher success rates (grade of A, B or C) during both the Fall and Spring semesters and remained on track through the first semester of their sophomore year to graduate in four years at a significantly higher rate than the control group. As the students progress through their college careers BIOS participants show increased retention in the biology major and remained on track to graduate in four years than students who did not participate in BIOS.

The BIOS program has been shown to be a very effective orientation for incoming freshman science majors at a large research university. This one-week “boot camp” was originally designed to ease the transition from high school to college, but has proven to have a positive effect on the long term success and retention of students in the biological science major. While summer-long bridge programs are difficult to fund and staff with large numbers of students, and first semester programs offer help too late for many students, a one-week “boot camp” can be feasible at large universities and provide help for students before they make their first semester mistakes. BIOS organizers have compiled useful information for college departments that wish to replicate a pre-freshman boot camp.

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