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A longitudinal model to increase the enrollment and graduation of Alaska Native/American Indian engineering undergraduates

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

FPD 2: Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.63.1 - 23.63.22



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Paper Authors


Herbert P. Schroeder University of Alaska Anchorage

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Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder received his PhD in civil engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. He is currently Vice Provost for ANSEP (Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program) and Founder at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Professor of Engineering. In 2009, Dr. Schroeder was honored by the creation of an endowed chair in his name at the University of Alaska Anchorage with $4.4 million in donations from the ANSEP partner organizations. He is the recipient of the White House 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring; the Alaska Federation of Natives 2005 Denali Award, the greatest honor presented by the Federation to a non-Native; and the NACME 2009 Reginald H. Jones Distinguished Service Award.

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Linda P. Lazzell University of Alaska Anchorage

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Linda Lazzell is Vice Chancellor Emerita for Student Affairs at the University of Alaska Anchorage. During her tenure at the university, Dr. Lazzell led the development of student-centered programs and services that increased student success, including the establishment of the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program as the first residential academic learning community on the campus. Dr. Lazzell is a recipient of the 2009-2010 Thomas M. Mangoon Excellence in Counseling Award from ACPA (American College Personnel Association), Commission for Counseling and Psychological Services; the 2009 Grand Gold Award, Student Recruitment Video, District VIII from CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education), for “Villagers in the City”; and the 1992 ACPA Outstanding International Program of the Year. Dr. Lazzell received her EdD in counseling psychology from Argosy University Sarasota. She is a higher education consultant, a licensed professional counselor, and board certified counselor supervisor.

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A longitudinal model to increase the enrollment and graduation of Alaska Native/American Indian engineering undergraduates AbstractOur program focuses on providing inspiration, guidance, and opportunity for AlaskaNative/American Indian students to pursue engineering and other STEM degrees at a publicuniversity in the Northwest. We have developed a longitudinal model that works with studentsfrom the time they are in middle school all the way to the professions and the PhD. Our programraises the bar for academic preparation for college, increases university recruitment, first-to-second-year retention, and graduation rates through hands-on middle and high school outreachinitiatives, rigorous summer bridging programs, and focused undergraduate and graduateacademic communities. Programmatic components are grouped in the four broad categories ofpre-college, summer bridge, university success, and graduate success.Pre-CollegeThe Middle School Academy is a two-week, academic, residential component that focuses onincreasing mathematics and science skills of students while introducing them to college life. Onthe first day of the academy each student assembles a top-end computer and loads software.Students then use the computers on various tasks related to the daily classes they take for theremainder of the Academy. Students attend classes that include problem solving, research andcommunication skills incorporated with biology, chemistry, physics, environmental sciences,earth sciences, engineering and design concepts, and field excursions all led by certifiedclassroom teachers and university faculty. Eighty-three percent of middle school participantsearned the right to keep their computers by successfully completing algebra 1 before graduatingfrom 8th grade. This compares to the national average of 26% for all students nationwide aspublished by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).In Computer Assembly, high school students assemble a top-end computer and earn the right tokeep it by completing trigonometry, physics and chemistry, and by showing future computerassembly students how to build computers. Students learn to use AutoCAD, MS Office, GIS andother software relating to STEM careers. Since 2002, our students have assembled over 1,000computers, and of those who have now graduated more than 60% have successfully completedall three classes. This compares to what NACME calls the “4% percent problem” ofunderrepresented minorities nationwide who graduate from high school “engineering eligible.”The Acceleration Academy is for high school students. They come to our campus for six weeksand are required to live in the residence halls. Students choose two classes: high school levelphysics, chemistry, trigonometry; university level calculus 1, introduction to engineering orbiology. All classes earn dual university and high school credit and are taught by universityfaculty and certified teachers.Summer BridgeOur Summer Bridge is for calculus ready or further advanced students who have just graduatedfrom high school In town Summer Bridge includes eight-week internships, daily calculus orother advanced math for credit classes, evening calculus with undergraduate peer mentors fromthe University Success component, Friday “brown bag” sessions with practicing professionalsfrom the community, and weekend group activities. Field Summer Bridge includes one week ofsafety training, a for credit calculus class, and a five week field internship working withscientists and engineers. Each Summer Bridge student makes a presentation for the partnersponsors at the end of the summer. Students who successfully complete the program are awardedscholarships.University SuccessOur retention rates are high because we have designed an academic learning community thatfocuses on areas where our students have traditionally had difficulties. Our students understandthe importance of community and teamwork. We help them find ways to work together to besuccessful. The University Success component includes: a) supportive academic community; b) on-campus residential community; c) weekly recitation sessions; d) Master Student Class; e) summer internships; f) undergraduate research opportunities; g) advising with special emphasis on first- and second-year students; h) co-enrollment in gateway and degree-related courses; i) weekly team building and professional networking meetings; j) weekly activities planned by students; k) merit based scholarships; and l) professional society memberships.Graduate SuccessOur Graduate Success component extends community into graduate school.A dedicated building provides 14,000 square feet of space that is forever reserved for thestudents as a hub for learning, safety, and a community of belonging.External evaluations concluded that our university retention approach has had a positiveinfluence on the recruitment, retention and graduation of Alaska Native engineering students.(700 words)Data to clarify nature of our work:University Retention Data - External evaluations were conducted within the past five years. Asurvey was designed to study current undergraduate participants’ perceptions of the value andimportance of the components of our university retention program; their perceptions of thequantity and quality of their interactions with program peers, faculty, university staff, and theuniversity system; and who they deem most important in helping them persist and beacademically successful in college. The data collected were also analyzed for evidence of socialand academic integration, educational goal commitment, institutional commitment, congruencewith the university, and a local model of student expertise peer support.The results suggested that participants perceived our program-related experiences as havingimportant and positive impacts on their success as students. The program-related experiencesthat were most frequently ranked as having the most positive impact on their success as studentswere: attending program tutoring/recitation sessions together; studying together outside ofclasses; taking classes together; receiving program scholarship funding; experiencing programsummer internships; attending weekly program meetings; developing friendships and socializingwith other program participants. Results suggested that our university retention strategiespositively influenced the academic and social integration of the participants. Results furthersuggested that participants experienced high levels of peer support from each other and highlevels of help from program faculty and staff. Participants reported experiencing a high level ofinstitutional commitment and congruence, or student-institution fit, within the campusenvironment and a high level of educational goal commitment to completing bachelor’s degreesin engineering. Participants reported that the program created a supportive and safe learningcommunity that was respectful of Alaska Native/American Indian students and their cultures.Pre-College Data

Schroeder, H. P., & Lazzell, L. P. (2013, June), A longitudinal model to increase the enrollment and graduation of Alaska Native/American Indian engineering undergraduates Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19077

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