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An Experiment In Learning Intervention For At Risk Students In Engineering Economy

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.81.1 - 3.81.5

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Paper Authors

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David G. Martin

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William G. Sullivan

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

Session 1639

An Experiment in Learning Intervention for At-Risk Students in Engineering Economy

William G. Sullivan, David G. Martin Virginia Tech


At Virginia Tech, over 1,000 students per year take a required course in engineering economy (ISE 2014). It is taught primarily to sophomores, and every year we see 20-25% of the class make Ds and Fs. Many of these ìat riskî students transfer out of engineering because of low grades in ISE 2014 and other core engineering courses. An experiment was conducted during the fall semester of 1997 to actively intervene in the education of ISE 2014 students who are at risk by offering help at a personal level. Clearly, the challenge is how to accomplish this with very limited resources in classes that average 175-200 students each.


This paper describes the results of an experiment to encourage active learning participation by ìat riskî students in two large sections of engineering economy (approximately 200 students each) taught at Virginia Tech in the fall of 1997 using the DeGarmo, et al textbook [1]. At-risk students are students whose predicted final grade in the course is a ìDî or an ìF.î Grade predictions were made during the summer of 1997 by using a multiple linear regression equation developed for 1,400 students during 1993-96 and reported by Sullivan and Daghestani [2].

In general, a sophomore student will make a ìDî in the course when his/her Virginia Tech QCA is in the bottom quartile of the College of Engineering (less than 2.0). Similarly, a ìDî is predicted when a studentís Math SAT score falls in the bottom quartile of engineering students (less than 500). If a student is in the bottom quartile of QCA and Math SAT scores in the college, the student is predicted to fail the course. Additionally, advanced placement freshmen are at risk because their final grades are (on the average) on letter lower than the ìaverageî sophomore who makes a ìCî in engineering economy.

The Experiment

During the fall of 1997, at-risk students identified during the preceding summer were organized into two optional recitation groups (one for the 10 am class and one for the 2 pm class). These groups were taught by a veteran graduate teaching assistant (GTA). Non at-risk students were assigned to other optional recitation groups (two each at 10 am and 2 pm). Thus, one-third of the recitation groups were comprised of students who were predicted to perform poorly (a grade of D or F) in the 10 am and 2 pm sections of the class.

Martin, D. G., & Sullivan, W. G. (1998, June), An Experiment In Learning Intervention For At Risk Students In Engineering Economy Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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