In considering how academic librarians might increase retention among science undergraduates, it is important to remember the impact of community colleges on retention. Lloyd and Eckhardt reported in Science Educator that more than half of students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science in 2004 had attended community college at some point (p.33). Knowing the trends in science major retention, it’s reasonable to assume many more students from community colleges start out as science majors at 4-year institutions, and then end up switching to different disciplines. Preparing community college students to be accepted for transfer and succeed in science majors could be key to getting more undergraduates into the STEM pipeline.
Lloyd and Eckhardt’s 2010 article leads me to suggest that the library programs most successful in improving retention of STEM majors in the future will be the result of collaboration between community college and 4-year college librarians.Photo attribution: “Community college chemistry students” from Integrated Laboratory Network’s Flickr photostream. This image has not been changed in any way. See the Creative Commons License for further details.