June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.265.1 - 11.265.10
Back to Basics: A Student-Tutor Matching Program
The College of Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Texas at Tyler recognizes the value of peer-to-peer learning and has in recent years established an engineering “learning community” by reserving sections of freshman and sophomore courses like Calculus, Chemistry and English specifically for engineering students. The goal was that ad hoc alliances and support networks that promote peer-to-peer learning would form within the learning community. However, the learning community approach has well-known limitations. The very best students are typically self-motivated to study and are not consistently involved in the community. The remaining students, including those who most need help, can become “the blind leading the blind.” It is our belief, however, that structured peer-to-peer mentoring can make up the deficiencies learning community. A formalized system for getting more-advanced students in our programs to tutor students in their lower level pre-engineering courses would be very attractive.
Such a structured peer-to-peer mentoring and tutoring program, known as the "Back-to-Basics (B2B) Tutoring Program," was launched in fall, 2005 at the University of Texas at Tyler with financial support of the Texas Workforce Development Commission (TWDC). The goal of the focused tutoring program was to provide support for engineering students in the basic areas of sciences, math and programming to help them survive the first two years of the program. The initiative under which B2B was funded by TWDC envisaged increasing the graduation rate of electrical engineers, but students in other engineering disciplines are welcome to use the services of B2B tutors as well.
This paper describes the structure and assessment methods of the B2B tutoring and mentoring program and gives preliminary results.
The challenge of engineering education in the United States in the 21st century will be to produce sufficient numbers of qualified engineers from our higher-level educational institutions. This is necessary to keep the nation at the forefront of the technological innovation. In recent years, many engineering schools, including first-tier institutions, have observed a general downturn in enrollment. The student retention rate for the first and second years of engineering programs has been falling. Engineering students must be ready for university-level classes in math, physics, chemistry and computer programming. In an all-too-large percentage of cases, these students are not well prepared in high school for the four-year university programs on which they embark. The problems of recruiting and retaining students adequately prepared for engineering coursework are particularly acute in the region served by the University of Texas at Tyler. The proportion of the population holding baccalaureate degrees in East Texas is below both state and national averages. Based on experience at UT-Tyler, 50% of our entering students eventually drop out due to issues with the above-mentioned courses.
Shirvaikar, M., & Pieper, R., & Beams, D. (2006, June), Back To Basics: A Student Tutor Matching Program Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/630
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