MavPASS helps students academically succeed 

When your high school science teacher told you college would be hard, they weren’t lying. The readings, exams and homework are more rigorous, and the material is more complex. 

Luckily for Minnesota State students, MavPASS exists to help students survive those often-difficult STEM courses. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.) University MavPASS Faculty Liaison Laura Jacobi said this program has helped many students across campus since it started in the fall of 2019. 

Last semester there were 1,819 students who went to MavPASS 10,594 times. That was in one semester. Incrementally, we’ve had higher and higher levels of attendance. When we first started, about 21% of students went. In the most recent semester, 57% went,” said Jacobi. 

The MavPASS program received the Exemplary New Supplemental Instruction award for helping students succeed through the program. This is an international award, and Jacobi said this award is amazing to have. 

“It’s an acknowledgment of the hard work of a lot of people over the last several years. I don’t know what to say other than amazing,” said Jacobi. 

The MavPASS courses are primarily STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Jacobi said this is because STEM classes have the highest DFW rate. DFW rate refers to the percentage of students who earn a D, a F or withdraw from a course. 

“Courses that have 20% or higher DFW rates work well for MavPASS because that’s often really challenging material if lots of students are having trouble succeeding,” said Jacobi. “And oftentimes, those courses just happen to be in CSET: College Science, Engineering Technology, so that’s why we support a lot of courses in STEM.” 

MavPASS is not required; it is entirely up to the student, but Jacobi strongly encourages students to attend regardless of their ability levels and GPA. She said students can ask their professor if their class has a MavPASS session. 

“Our most recent data from last year show that there are significant differences between non-attendees and students who go five or more times at every GPA level, so it helps boost course success for everyone,” said Jacobi. “Students will use it for many different reasons. Some students may not have as much of a grasp on the material. Other students feel like they understand the material, but it gives them the opportunity to practice and reinforce it.” 

MavPASS Leaders run the MavPASS sessions. Jacobi said they like to take students who have used the program successfully and turn them into MavPASS leaders. 

“We’ve had leaders who failed the class the first time they took it, and then the next time they took it with going to MavPASS regularly and ended up becoming MavPASS leaders,” said Jacobi. “Then, when they become MavPASS leaders, they can empathize with that, know how to solve problems, and give tips on what worked for them.” 

Jacobi said there are two valuable things about MavPASS: students can use their resources and grow in amazing ways. 

“I’ve seen MavPASS leaders who’ve come who’ve just been shy or apprehensive and just blossom into people who are so comfortable with public speaking and whose interpersonal skills have developed, and it’s just really fun to see how much people grow with it as an attendee or as a MavPASS leader.” 

Header photo: The MavPASS program received the Exemplary New Supplemental Instruction award for helping students succeed through the program. (Alexis Darkow/The Reporter)

Write Lauren Viska at

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