Abstract

The First2 Network is a collection of people from K–12, higher education, government, and industry who are coming together to ensure that students of West Virginia, a rural Appalachian state, will be prepared to choose science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and persist in them. This project—funded by the National Science Foundation—combines many features, including semi-annual conferences, structured working groups, summer immersive experiences for students, a student ambassador program, and network improvement communities. The growth of the First2 Network is vital to make sure that these activities and programs are disseminated and sustained statewide. This article uses social network analysis to examine participation of people around the state during the first three years of the project. Findings indicate that the network is growing in number of people and in strength of connections. Network leadership members are playing key roles in the network, and student participants who persist in their STEM majors have stronger ties to the network. Social network indicators suggest that the network has manifested positive changes in the first three years of the project, which will lead to increased communication and collaboration among state agencies related to STEM persistence within the state.

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