Pivot! Unintended Benefits of a Virtual Summer Bridge Program

Taylor Martin
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Sam Houston State University

Prior to Summer 2020, the STEM Center at SHSU offered a successful summer bridge program for students entering Calculus and Precalculus. The STEM Center’s summer bridge curriculum includes foundational, content-specific work as well as a student success course incorporating metacognition, learning science, and study skills. Plans were in place to expand the bridge course offerings to General Chemistry 1 for Summer 2020 when the pandemic upended all in-person plans. Rather than cancel the program, we shifted to a virtual offering on very short notice. The STEM Center at SHSU has now offered two years of virtual summer bridge courses, expanding content areas to include not only Calculus and Precalculus, but also General Chemistry I and II as well as Engineering Technology. Our enrollment has multiplied and early student success data suggests that the program is effective as a tool for retaining STEM intending students. The unanticipated benefits of transitioning to an online experience indicate that a virtual bridge course can be more impactful on student success than a residential one.In this workshop, we will share structure, organization, materials, and lessons learned from 2 years worth of virtual summer bridge programming. Participants can expect an interactive, engaging workshop on organizing an effective virtual bridge program, along with a discussion of working through challenges.


Mary Swarthout; mbs001@shsu.edu