Building Better Bridges into STEM: A Synthesis of 25 Years of Literature on STEM Summer Bridge Programs
Summer bridge programs are designed to help transition students into the college learning environment. Increasingly, bridge programs are being developed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines because of the rigorous content and lower student persistence in college STEM compared with other disciplines. However, to our knowledge, a comprehensive review of STEM summer bridge programs does not exist. To provide a resource for bridge program developers, we conducted a systematic review of the literature on STEM summer bridge programs. We identified 46 published reports on 30 unique STEM bridge programs that have been published over the past 25 years. In this review, we report the goals of each bridge program and whether the program was successful in meeting these goals. We identify 14 distinct bridge program goals that can be organized into three categories: academic success goals, psychosocial goals, and department-level goals. Building on the findings of published bridge reports, we present a set of recommendations for STEM bridge programs in hopes of developing better bridges into college.