New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
This project is supported via a 5-year NSF STEP grant and designed around a comprehensive set of activities that can be classified in the following major areas.
Improving the rate of success in mathematics courses: We implemented compulsory enrichment sessions immediately following the lectures in Calculus I and Calculus II courses. These sessions are an integrated adaptation of the Supplemental Instruction (SI) and the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) models. In these compulsory sessions, undergraduate peer leaders facilitate team learning in small groups. Activities include carefully crafted exercises to reinforce skills and problems to deepen and expand conceptual understanding of lecture materials. Outside of the classroom, students can avail of both face-to-face and online tutoring services provided by undergraduate peers who are available during daytime as well as evening hours.
Engaging students to the engineering community as early as possible through mentoring and other activities: A Focus Interest Community (FIC) is a dedicated wing of a residence hall where freshman residents who share common interests form a support network. Upper class engineering majors serve as mentors to all engineering freshmen via their designated group of mentees and use the engineering FIC as their home base for various activities. Mentors provide academic support as well as plan social activities to help freshmen become engaged and connected with the university in general and with the engineering community in particular.
As early as their freshman year, students are encouraged to participate in student design teams and professional organizations based on their area of interest. The School of Engineering currently has 27 professional organizations and student design teams. These teams and organizations participate in regional, national, and international competitions and meetings. Participation in professional organizations gives students an excellent opportunity to connect with the engineering community and to have hands-on experience in “doing” engineering.
Freshmen have the chance to request an engineering faculty mentor as well as interact with engineers from local companies on a regular basis. These interactions help students build their professional network early in their studies and give them access to positive role models. . These initial connections with the engineering profession serve as an effective support tool to engage freshmen.
We are in the third year of the project. The passing rates in the Calculus courses showed noteworthy improvements, but more importantly, the number of As and Bs increased significantly. The original project scope and implementation plan is evaluated every year in light of unanticipated issues.. Adjustments are being made to achieve the project goals. Furthermore, as the project activities require significant coordination among different campus offices and academic departments, changes are made in processes to facilitate collaboration. The project activities contributed to our improved retention rates and even helped us recruit more and better prepared students. We would like to share our experiences and preliminary results with the ASEE community.
Agustin, M. Z. N., & Agustin, M., & Pelekanos, G., & Karacal, C. (2016, June), A Holistic Student-Centered Approach to Retaining and Graduating Engineers at a Midwest University Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26334
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