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Academic Success and Retention of Underprepared Students

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

8

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36635

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36635

Download Count

43

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Paper Authors

biography

Robin A. M. Hensel West Virginia University

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Robin A. M. Hensel, Ed.D., is the Assistant Dean for Freshman Experience in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. While her doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on higher education teaching of STEM fields, she also holds B.S. and M.A. degrees in Mathematics. Dr. Hensel has over seven years of experience working in engineering teams and in project management and administration as a Mathematician and Computer Systems Analyst for the U. S. Department of Energy as well as more than 25 years of experience teaching mathematics, statistics, computer science, and first-year engineering courses in higher education institutions. Currently, she leads a team of faculty who are dedicated to providing first-year engineering students with a high-quality, challenging, and engaging educational experience with the necessary advising, mentoring, and academic support to facilitate their transition to university life and to prepare them for success in their engineering majors and future careers.

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biography

Joseph Dygert West Virginia University

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Ph.D student in aerospace engineering at West Virginia University

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biography

Melissa Lynn Morris University of Nevada - Las Vegas

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Melissa Morris is currently an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She previously served as a Teaching Associate Professor for the Freshman Engineering Program, in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University (WVU). She graduated Summa cum Laude with a BSME in 2006, earned a MSME in 2008, and completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering in 2011, all from WVU. At WVU, she has previously served as the Undergraduate and Outreach Advisor for the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and the Assistant Director of the Center for Building Energy Efficiency. She has previously taught courses such as Thermodynamics, Thermal Fluids Laboratory, and Guided Missiles Systems, as well as serving as a Senior Design Project Advisor for Mechanical Engineering Students. Her research interests include energy and thermodynamic related topics. Since 2007 she has been actively involved in recruiting and outreach for the Statler College, as part of this involvement Dr. Morris frequently makes presentations to groups of K-12 students.

Dr. Morris was selected as a the ASEE North Central Section Outstanding Teacher in 2018.

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Abstract

The Academy of Engineering Success (AcES) program, established in 2012 and supported by NSF S-STEM award number 1644119 throughout 2016-2021, employs literature-based, best practices to support and retain underprepared and underrepresented students in engineering through graduation with the ultimate goal of diversifying the engineering workforce. A total of 71 students, including 21 students supported by S-STEM scholarships, participated in the AcES program between 2016 and 2019 at a large R1 institution in the mid-Atlantic region.

All AcES students participate in a common program during their first year, comprised of: a one-week summer bridge experience, a common fall professional development course and spring “Engineering in History” course, and a common academic advisor. These students also have opportunities for: (1) faculty-student, student-student, and industry mentor-student interaction, (2) academic support and student success education, and (3) major and career exploration – all designed to help students develop feelings of institutional inclusion, engineering self-efficacy and identity, and academic and professional success skills. They also participate in the GRIT, Longitudinal Assessment of Engineering Self-Efficacy (LAESE), and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) surveys plus individual and focus group interviews at the start, midpoint, and end of each fall semester and at the end of the spring semester. The surveys provide a measure of students’ GRIT, their beliefs related to the intrinsic value of engineering and learning, their feelings of inclusion and test anxiety, and their self-efficacy related to engineering, math, and coping skills. The interviews provide information related to the student experience, feelings of inclusion, and program impact.

Institutional data, combined with the survey and interview responses, are used to examine four research questions designed to examine the relationship of the elements of the AcES program to participants’ academic success and retention in engineering. Early analyses of the student retention data and survey responses from the 2017 and 2018 cohorts indicated students who ultimately left engineering before the start of their second year initially scored higher in areas of engineering self-efficacy and test anxiety, than those who stayed in engineering, while those who retained to the second year began their engineering education with lower self-efficacy scores, but higher scores related to the belief in the intrinsic value of engineering, learning strategy use, and coping self-efficacy. These results suggest that students who start with unrealistically high expectations of their performance leave engineering at higher rates than students who start with lower personal performance expectations, but stronger value of the field and strategies for meeting challenges. These data appear to support the Kruger-Dunning effect in which students with limited knowledge of a specific field overestimate their abilities to perform in that area or underestimate the level of effort success may require.

This paper will add an analysis of the academic success and retention data from 2019 cohort to this research, discuss the impact of COVID-19 to this program and research, as well as illuminate the quantitative results with the qualitative data from individual and focus group interviews regarding the aspects of the XYZ program that impact student success, their expectations and methods for overcoming academic challenges, and their feelings of motivation and inclusion.

Hensel, R. A. M., & Dygert, J., & Morris, M. L. (2021, July), Academic Success and Retention of Underprepared Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36635

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