June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.99.1 - 11.99.7
A Program to Improve Learning and Retention of First Year Engineering Students
Analysis of retention data in engineering programs at the Pacific School of Engineering and Computer Science revealed that only 45 to 50 percent of students entering as freshmen actually graduated from engineering programs in 2003 and 2004, and that up to 30 percent had left during their first year. A new program implemented in Fall 2005 is focused on improving retention of, and the quality of learning by first year engineering students. The program has been integrated within the context of the core "Introduction to Engineering" course taken by all engineering majors, leveraging the small school environment found at Pacific. Program components include a peer mentoring/tutoring program, math assessment tests, informal gatherings and guest speakers, field trips, and support of student chapters of professional engineering organizations' activities that promote student participation. The main component of the program is the peer mentoring/tutoring program. Sixteen students, ranging from sophomores to seniors, each serve as mentors to six to eight first year students. First year students are required to meet with their mentor for special review of engineering and math assignments, development of curriculum plans and time management plans, among other tasks. Specific attention is being given to students from populations traditionally underrepresented in engineering. The overarching objective of the program is to not only familiarize first year students with the engineering discipline but also to integrate them into the School quickly.
Program effectiveness will be measured with a set of outcome indicators, most notably retention, but also including other factors such as performance on assessment tests, performance in subsequent courses, and eventually, graduation rates. Outcome indicator data will be compared to statistics from the past three to five years. Preliminary results of this on-going program will be presented at the conference.
At many universities, 50 percent or more of entering first year students drop out of engineering due to a slew of reasons, many engineering schools are trying to identify and remedy. With fewer students entering engineering programs1, greater effort and attention must be allocated to retaining students who have decided to pursue an engineering education. The following have been given as primary reasons for the high attrition rate2:
1. Students are frustrated by the fact that while they almost effortlessly passed their classes in high school, they earn significantly lower grades (even C’s and D’s) while working substantially harder in their first year college courses. Additionally, engineering students find themselves working much harder than their peers in other majors.
2. The transition from the controlled environment in high school to the independence gained in college leaves many unprepared and with a lack of direction regarding study habits and time management skills.
Saviz, C., & Fernandez, A., & Golanbari, M., & Khoie, R., & Watson, K. (2006, June), A Program To Improve Learning And Retention Of First Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/902
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