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A Drop-In Tutoring Program to Support First-Year Engineering

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

FPD VI: Presenting "All the Best" of the First-Year Programs Division

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.40.1 - 22.40.14



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Paper Authors


Beverly Louie University of Colorado, Boulder

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BEVERLY LOUIE is the director for teaching and learning initiatives in the Broadening Opportunities through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center in CU’s College of Engineering
and Applied Science. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from CU, and a D.Phil. in mechanical engineering from the University of Oxford, England. Dr. Louie’s research interests are in the areas of engineering student retention and performance, teaching effectiveness
and collaborative learning.

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Daniel Knight University of Colorado, Boulder

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DANIEL W. KNIGHT is the engineering assessment specialist at the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program (ITLL) and the Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center in CU’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds a B.A. in psychology from the Louisiana State University, and an M.S. degree in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. degree in counseling psychology, both from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Knight’s research interests are in the areas of retention, program evaluation and teamwork practices in engineering education. His current duties include assessment, evaluation and research for the ITL Program’s and BOLD Center's hands-on initiatives.

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Jacquelyn F. Sullivan University of Colorado, Boulder

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JACQUELYN SULLIVAN is founding Co-Director of the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, and Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She received her Ph.D. in environmental health physics and toxicology from Purdue University and held leadership positions in the energy and software industries for 13 years. She founded and leads CU’s extensive K-12 Engineering Initiative and spearheaded the Engineering GoldShirt Program. In 2004 she founded the ASEE K-12 Division and in 2008 received NAE’s Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

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A Drop-In Tutoring Program to Support First-Year Engineering Retention, Self-Efficacy and IdentityA large public university recently established an inclusive excellence program with a focus onincreasing the academic performance and retention through graduation of students who areunderrepresented in engineering, including women, students of color, low income and first-generation college attendees. The program space houses a drop-in tutoring initiative called theStudent Success Center (SSC) that is open to all engineering students. Piloted in the 2008-2009academic year, the primary goals for the SSC is to foster student learning, maximize academicperformance in foundation courses and ultimately stem the loss of students in the first, secondand third years of engineering study. This study examines the program’s role in improving, theretention and success of engineering first year students and compares SSC users with the general,first year engineering population.The method for the present study makes use of two surveys to investigate the first yearexperience. The surveys were administered in the spring of 2009 and 2010 and generated morethan 600 responses total. We also make use of SSC user data from entry logs and a new cardswipe system that enables direct access to student information such as major and grade pointaverage.The primary research question for this project is to assess the factors that are associated with theuse of facilitated informal learning environments like the SSC that can impact student self-efficacy, identity and retention. Research includes probing the reasons behind the increasedsuccess we have observed in students who participate in the SSC, the impact of tutoring practiceson student retention, and examining the career awareness, interest and academic performance offirst year men and women who both stayed in or left engineering.Highlights of the results include very low numbers of SSC users who go on probation andsuspension and an average GPA that is on par, to slightly higher than, the college average. Theoverwhelming majority of first-semester students on probation and suspension are those who didnot use the SSC. Numerous repeating students who come as a group to work with the sametutors each week lead us to conclude that the SSC can play a strong role in guiding student studygroups that are facilitated in a positive and safe learning environment to support their retention inengineering. Over 220 unique students each year used the SSC with most seeking support forCalculus I-III, Chemistry and Physics. During thirty-five to forty hours per week of support withtwo tutors working at all times, approximately 2000 hours of SSC support per year wereprovided.As we move to a sustainable program, we will continue to provide effective tutoring through theSSC using the current model of graduate and upper division undergraduate tutors, but intend toshift some administrative responsibilities by establishing a lead graduate tutor to coordinatehiring, training and scheduling, data collection and a deeper analysis of student performanceresults.

Louie, B., & Knight, D., & Sullivan, J. F. (2011, June), A Drop-In Tutoring Program to Support First-Year Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17322

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