June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Minorities in Engineering
Analyses of new university engineering degree programs revealed that graduation rates were considerably lower than desired. The majority of first time freshman engineering majors were struggling with mathematics and changing to majors requiring less mathematics. Most did not meet the College Readiness Benchmark for Mathematics. The direct consequence was five to six years to graduate for far too many students. We initiated a ten week summer first time freshman engineering bridge program for the student population with ACT Math scores from 17-25 to increase retention and graduation in engineering and decrease time to graduate. Bridge students were enrolled in College Algebra and University Success (required of freshman) the first summer term, and in Trigonometry the second summer term. Program assessment was accomplished using a control group of all first time freshman engineering majors with identical ACT Math scores (17-25) that began the same fall semester. This protocol has been maintained for the 7 year program duration. The nominal four year graduation rate before the bridge program was less than 5% and the six year graduation rate was about 23% for this Math ACT score group. The data indicate there are two distinct populations within the 17-25 ACT Math scores. They are groups with 17-19 and 20-25 scores. For the 20-25 group, the most dramatic result was a decrease in time to graduate by nearly a year when accounting for both December and May graduates. The 20-25 bridge students have a 4 year engineering graduation rate of 41% relative to 17% for the control group (~100 each). The 17-19 bridge students had a 4 year engineering graduation rate of 12% relative to 3% for the control group. The six year engineering graduation rate for the 20-25 bridge students was 50% and the university graduation rate was 55%. The six year engineering graduation rate for the 17-19 bridge students was 14% and the university graduation rate was 41%. The full paper contains comprehensive analyses of the seven cohorts (2009 through 2016) for engineering, STEM and university retention rates, graduation rates and time to graduate. It includes one, two and three year retention rates, four, five and six year graduation rates and discusses some subtle implications from the data. To date 100% bridge students are state residents and all are African American. The resident bridge program is offered cost free (tuition, room and board) to the student except for incidental expenses. Our summer bridge program is relatively unique in its length, enrolling students for college credit (8 semester hours), forming a community of engineering learners, sustaining the program for eight summers and demonstrating that the program can more than double the graduation rate for the student population with 17-25 ACT Math scores.
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