Faculty Publications

Building Bridges: An Exploratory Study of Carver Bridge to STEM Success Students' Experiences and Sense of Belonging

Document Type



case study, high impact practices, retention, S-STEM, sense of belonging

Journal/Book/Conference Title

School Science and Mathematics


Scholarships in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S-STEM) programs have been designed to retain highly qualified students in STEM. At Simpson College, the Carver Bridge to STEM Success Program, funded by the National Science Foundation, has this same goal in mind. We designed and carried out a case study on the 15 Carver Bridge Scholars to quantify their experiences in the program and to measure their sense of belonging. We compared the Scholars to two groups: a comparison group of students who were eligible for the Carver Bridge program but did not participate and all STEM majors who matriculated at Simpson College at the same time as the Scholars. We found that the Scholars had a statistically significantly higher retention in STEM compared to the comparison group (2 = 13.715 p < 0.001, df = 1, ⍵ = 0.71) and a similar GPA at graduation compared to other STEM majors at Simpson College (Mann–Whitney U = 653, p = 0.725, r = 0.03). We found major themes including seeking opportunities, the role of professors, and viewing the Carver Bridge as a “home base.” We outline the major strengths of Carver Bridge as seen by the students and propose a path forward for research on future generations of scholars.


Department of Biology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version