Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Advisor

Elaine Ward


The STEM pipeline, a commonly used analogy (Kuh, 2006; Tierney, 2000), has been shrinking. Furthermore, degree attainment for women and underrepresented minority students in STEM are even lower than for undergraduates as a-whole (National Science Foundation, 2007). With low numbers of students enrolling in STEM fields and even smaller numbers of women and minorities in the STEM pipeline, colleges and universities need to pay particular-attention to retaining the students they have. This capstone proposes a STEM Center that provides an infrastructural support for undergraduate students in the School of Science and Engineering at Merrimack College. The Center will consolidate programs under a single entity and create a continuum of resources designed to support students at every stage of their education. Specifically, using George Kuh’s high impact practices (Kuh, 2012) faculty and staff will plan and implement retention initiatives including experiential learning opportunities, undergraduate research, STEM-focused clubs and a Living Learning Community (LLC) for female students. There is also increased coordination between faculty and staff to provide targeted advising during critical points in the semester. Tinto’s Interactionalist Theory of individual student departure (2012) and Bolman and Deal’s Organizational Theory (2013) are used to guide the organization of the infrastructure for student support services within the school.