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A Model For Underrepresented Minority Student Success In Engineering: The Pref Summer Bridge Program

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Attracting Young MINDs

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.57.1 - 10.57.9



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Paper Authors

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Amy Freeman

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Anita Persaud

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Model for Underrepresented Minority Students’ Success in Engineering: The PREF Summer Bridge Program

Anita Persaud, Amy L. Freeman

College of Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University


It is important to create opportunities outside of the classroom where minority students can gather for academic workshops, and social and cultural events due to the isolation feelings many face on predominantly white campuses. Research shows that African-American and Hispanic/Latino American college students have a higher attrition rate than Asian American and European-American students 4. According to the National Institute of Education Report, when faculty, administrators, and students are involved in learning, there is greater student achievement and retention within that college environment 1, 6, 8, 10, 2, 3.

College students experience three major stages in their acclimation to college: separation, transition, and incorporation or integration 9. Academic and student support services need to be front-loaded because the research demonstrates a high attrition rate during the first year of college. In order for students to be retained, they need to develop their skill competencies and confidence in their ability to perform well academically. This can be done by: a) increasing the number of minority faculty members; b) establishing mentoring programs; c) assigning academic advisers and support services counselors; d) arranging for consistent financial aid presentations; e) gaining access to tutorial services focusing on mathematics and the sciences; f) implementing first-year seminars for incoming first year students and transfer students; g) instituting communities of learning such as special housing options; h) arranging for book and tuition scholarship programs; i) clustering of core engineering courses taught by selected faculty members; j) working in conjunction with internship or cooperative education programs; and k) establishing pre-college programs and college-summer-bridge programs 11, 7, 10, 5. The following recommendations have been shown to improve the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented minority students in higher education and are adhered to within the College of Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. Further, the summer bridge program, Pre- First Year Engineering & Science Program (PREF) has been designed to embrace these principles and has been remarkably successful in doing so over its 14 year history at the university.

PREF is a summer bridge program specially designed for underrepresented first-year students of color in engineering or science-based curriculums. It is well equipped with intensive academic preparatory courses for entry-level Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and English writing courses. In addition, time management and study skills seminars are offered in a college survival skills series to ensure academic success. Experienced university engineering and science faculty and

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Freeman, A., & Persaud, A. (2005, June), A Model For Underrepresented Minority Student Success In Engineering: The Pref Summer Bridge Program Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15426

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