Assessing School of Life Sciences freshmen satisfaction in the Life Sciences Career Paths mentoring program
Abstract The BIO 189 Life Sciences Career Paths course is a seminar course that is intended to acclimate incoming freshmen into the School of Life Sciences (SOLS). While there are instructors who organize and present in the class, upper division undergraduate students are primarily responsible for facilitating lectures and discussions and mentoring the freshmen. Prior research has demonstrated that the mentor-mentee relationship is a very important predictor of success and retention within all university first-year programs. While past studies focused on the student mentor-mentee relationships, there is limited research that measures student satisfaction within freshmen seminar courses, especially in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The purpose of this project is to survey students about their perception of the BIO 189 course. The effort of the project is on pre-health students, as they initiate their undergraduate careers and attempt to achieve acceptance into professional school four years later. Analysis of Likert scale surveys distributed to 561 freshmen revealed that students with an emphasis on "medicine" in their majors preferred a BIO 189 course geared to pre-health interests whereas students seeking an emphasis on research (ecology and cell biology/genetics) sought a BIO 189 course focused on internship and employment opportunities. Assessment of the mentor-mentee relationship revealed that students (n = 561) preferred one-on-one meetings with mentors outside of class (44%) compared to those who preferred interaction in class (30%). A sizable 61.68% of students (n = 548) were most concerned with attaining favorable GPAs, highlighting strong emphasis on academic performance. Overall, 61% of respondents (n = 561) expressed satisfaction with SOLS resources and involvement opportunities, which was hypothesized. These results give substantial insight into the efficacy of a first-year success seminar-mentoring program for college freshmen in STEM.