Integrated, contextualized curriculum
The team of B2B instructors have worked intensively over time to develop, refine and align their curricula, and to embed all skill development in a context connected to students’ employment goals.
Students are required to complete 8 units of math, science, and language. Part of the success of the B2B program can be attributed to the integrated, contextualized curricula of the three core classes of the B2B (math, science, language), as well as with the internship preparation class (laboratory skills).
Contextualization and linked courses has been shown to enhance student learning. The topics of the two basic skills classes, math and language, echo the science content, and prepare students directly for their lectures, labs and exams in the science class. Students are required to take the three courses as co-requisites, which allows them to see the relevancy of the skills learned in the math and language class, and significantly increases their level of engagement in all three courses.
The Bridge to Biotech is also a learning community, where students go through the three classes as cohorts. This allows for peer support, which usually arises organically as students form study groups. Bridge to Biotech alumni are also hired as lab aides in the Bridge science class, tutors in the math class, and outreach assistants for the overall program.
This learning community model also allows for better faculty support of at-risk students. By working closely together, and aligning their responses to challenging situations, the instructors can promptly address student issues in a consistent manner.
One of the ways in which the B2B increases retention is by empowering students by providing them with the study skills to pursue a college education, especially through the language class. Students are also allowed time to progressively accommodate to the complexity of scientific concepts and the vastness of scientific knowledge through a gradual phase-in of the science curriculum.
When students are polled at the beginning of the semester, 58% say they plan on enrolling in a certificate program. This number increases to 70% at the end of the first semester of the B2B.
The Bridge to Biotech was designed with the following semester in mind. The science curriculum was developed by the same faculty who developed the curriculum in some of the “gatekeeper” courses. These faculty members also teach both the Bridge science class and the gatekeeper courses. This allows for a smoother transition for students who would otherwise be overwhelmed by the difficulty of the materials, and intensity of the pace in these college courses.