June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
NSF Grantees Poster Session
24.183.1 - 24.183.14
Analysis of the Impact of Participation in a Summer Bridge Program on Mathematics Course Performance by First-Semester Engineering StudentsAbstractAs part of an NSF-supported project, a summer bridge program for incoming engineeringand computer science freshmen was conducted each summer between 2009 and 2012.The primary purpose of this program was to improve the mathematics course placementfor incoming students whose initial placement as determined by a math placementexamination was below Calculus I. The students retake the university’s math placementexamination at the end of the bridge program to determine if they may enroll into a moreadvanced mathematics course. The immediate goal of the program is to improve themath placement of the students, but it is important in evaluating the success of theprogram to consider the performance of the students in their Fall semester math courses.The mathematics portion of the bridge program centers on using the ALEKS softwarepackage for targeted, self-guided learning. The program took place exclusively in an on-campus format, and also featured a required residential component and additionalengineering activities for the students. The program’s duration was 4 weeks, andstudents were expected to improve their math placement by at least one semester. It isexpected that improving their math placement will reduce the student’s time-to-graduation which should in turn improve retention rates and eventually graduation rates.Data from the four cohorts have been collected and analyzed to judge the effectiveness ofthe program with respect to both improving the students’ math placement and thestudents’ performance in future math courses. A lower percentage of students (69%)improved their math course placement in the 2009 cohort, but all categories of bridgeprogram students performed as well as the class average in the Fall 2009 semester. Forthe 2010-2012 cohorts, students succeeded at improving their math placement at a higherrate (83%-88%), and in general were able to successfully complete their Fall mathcourses at a similar rate to students who did not participate in the bridge program. Thissuggests that the bridge program is not inappropriately placing large numbers of studentsinto courses for which they are not prepared.The changes made over the years in the program are described in the paper, and theperformance of the students both in the bridge program and in their First-semester mathcourses are thoroughly described and analyzed.
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