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A Holistic Student-Centered Approach to Retaining and Graduating Engineers at a Midwest University

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 5A: Work-In-Progress: 5 Minute Postcard Session I

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Ma Zenia N. Agustin Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

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Dr. Zenia Agustin is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Currently, she is the Director of General Education and Integrative Studies for the university and Director of the Actuarial Science program for the department. Her research interests include reliability and survival analysis and in particular, goodness-of-fit testing for recurrent events.

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Marcus Agustin Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

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Dr. Marcus Agustin is a Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His research interests include Statistics, Reliability, and Survival Analysis. Courses he has taught at SIUE include Calculus I-III, Linear Algebra, Operations Research: Stochastic Models, Introduction to Mathematical Statistics I&II, Reliability Engineering, and Reliability Theory.

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George Pelekanos Southern Illinois University

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Dr. George Pelekanos is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He obtained his Ph. D degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Delaware in 1997. His research interests include inverse scattering and mathematics education.

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Cem Karacal Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

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Dr. Cem Karacal is a Professor of Industrial Engineering and Dean of the School of Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He obtained his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State University in 1991 and 1986, respectively. His received his B.Sc. degree from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey in 1982. He has experience in industry and academia. His main research and teaching interest areas are simulation modeling, quality control, operations research, and facilities layout. Before joining to SIUE he worked at Rochester Institute of Technology as a faculty member and Computer Integrated Manufacturing System project coordinator for RIT's integrated circuit factory. He is a senior member of IIE and SME, and a member of ASEE, Alpha Pi Mu and Tau Beta Pi.

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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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