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An Online Alternative to the On-Campus Summer Bridge Program

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

FPD VIII: Crossing Bridges and Easing Transitions into the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.193.1 - 22.193.12



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Paper Authors


Bernard White George Mason University

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Dr. E. Bernard White is Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering in Fairfax, Virginia where he has worked for over 20 years. He earned bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics from Mississippi Industrial College and the University of Illinois respectively. He also earned masters and Ph.D. degrees in systems engineering from Howard University and the University of Virginia respectively.

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Eileen Patricia Mazzone George Mason University

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Eileen Mazzone, M.Ed., is the Learning Specialist in the Learning Services division of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at George Mason University. She is completing her licensure requirements in Special Education and has started work on her A.B.A. graduate certificate. She has a Master of Education degree in Curriculum & Instruction Secondary Education from George Mason University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Government & Politics from George Mason University.

As the Learning Specialist, Ms. Mazzone provides direct and consultative academic support to college students with learning disabilities (LD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) as well as students without identified disabilities who are struggling in their post secondary coursework. She consults with faculty and other units that support the learning process, and provides academic skills workshops and individual assessments of academic skills to students. Ms. Mazzone teaches a University course each spring for second semester freshmen on academic action.

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Vicki L. Dominick George Mason University

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Vicki Dominick, M.S.Ed., is a Learning Specialist at George Mason University.

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An Online Alternative to the On-Campus Summer Bridge ProgramFeedback solicited from on-campus LSAMP Summer Bridge Program participants from previousyears was used as a basis for determining the critical attributes and other factors that comprise aneffective Summer Bridge Program for freshman STEM majors. When asked to shareinformation on specific activities, programming, and services packaged in their on-campusSummer Bridge Program from which they benefitted most, these student participants listed areassuch as the following: improving their study skills, knowing what will be expected from them ascollege students, learning how to manage their time, getting organized, and interacting with peersand mentors. All of the students providing feedback ranked the Summer Bridge Program highlywith respect to other LSAMP programs, services, and activities provided throughout the year.After much thought and consideration to the students’ perceived need for a way to bridge the gapbetween high school and college, then exploring ways to exploit the capabilities of today’seducational technologies and media resources, the idea of developing an online alternative to thetraditional on-campus Summer Bridge Program was born. Interestingly, a search of the literaturerevealed few previous attempts by other universities to provide online courses to help transitionSTEM freshmen into college, possibly due to the recent advent of robust technology.Learning Specialists, who were assisted by other staff in the office of Counseling andPsychological Services, as well as in the offices of DoIT Learning Support Services, andTechnology Integration and Assistive Technology, implemented the resulting online alternativecourse. Students were required not only to complete the assignments but to reflect, in an openforum Discussion Board, with their peers. The use of technology (PPT, YouTube and Webcam)was incorporated into the curriculum as a means to get students used to using these tools beforethey arrived on campus to begin fall semester classes. The class was run on Blackboard (Bb) fora period of five weeks. The flexibility provided by the online technology enabled us tosupplement the original course content by adding two “Grand Challenges.” One Challengeencouraged student participants to identify study partners/groups using the Discussion Board onBlackboard and the other Grand Challenge invited student participants to report their successesin overcoming an academic challenge related to their majors (e.g. successful placement into thefirst mathematics course required for their major after several previous unsuccessful attempts).Initial program effectiveness was evaluated through a reflection paper written by studentparticipants at the end of the Summer Bridge Program. An analysis of these papers revealed thatall student participants indicated that they benefitted immensely from the Online Summer 2010Bridge Program. These two groups of student participants will be asked to write an additionalreflection paper on the effectiveness of the Bridge program as they get closer to the completionof their first year of study. Other ways to compare the 2010 online program participants with the2009 on-campus program participants would be first semester GPAs and retention rates in STEMmajors after one year.In this paper, we describe how the on campus Summer Bridge program was adapted to developthe Summer 2010 online alternative course in addition to the assessment results comparing thesetwo formats. Finally, lessons learned as well as plans for refining and broadening the onlineSummer Bridge Program for future student participants are discussed.

White, B., & Mazzone, E. P., & Dominick, V. L. (2011, June), An Online Alternative to the On-Campus Summer Bridge Program Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17474

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