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The Science of Dorms

The Science of Dorms
By France Griggs Sloat

A funny thing happened on the way to the dorm room the other night. A group of students got together and studied. About science. Imagine.

 

It’s been happening a lot this year in Kuhlman Hall, particularly on a special floor of a special wing reserved for freshman students majoring in science—including occupational therapy, athletic training and nursing. To increase the percentage of students—especially minorities—who choose and maintain science as their majors, the University’s offices of multicultural affairs and residence life offered them the chance to live—and hopefully study—together by setting aside a wing in Kuhlman.

The naturally resulting support group would be a big step, they theorized, in helping them succeed.

This year, 38 women and 18 men took them up on it, and it appears to be working well, says Lisa Metze, of the residence life staff. “The female wing is very active with their study groups,” Metze says. “The other day, someone was sick and they were trying to diagnose each other. The male floor includes science majors plus random majors since it’s a half wing, but it appears the science students’ study habits are having a positive effect on the other students. They’ve been talking about starting study or quiet times earlier than required.”

Among the students are six who are members of the Ernest Just Society, a support group for minority students who are natural science majors. Formed three years ago, the society now has 15 members who regularly meet with science faculty for study and support. One is Kishundra King, a sophomore biology major from Dallas and the resident advisor for the women’s wing. She says the science wing idea is working really well—almost too well, actually. The students study together in their rooms or the lounge almost daily and she’s afraid they won’t meet enough people outside their major because they’re so busy studying.

Metze says they’ll be assessing the program to learn what’s working, what can be improved upon and what the students want. “We hope to get more Ernest Just students involved,” she says.

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