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Beyond Math Enrichment: Applied Practice With Life And Career Skills Intervention And Retention Applications Matter In Educating New Minority Freshmen

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovative Methods to Teach Engineering to URMs

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.277.1 - 14.277.12



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Paper Authors


Beverley Pickering-Reyna University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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Beverley J. Pickering-Reyna has been the Director of Diversity/Gender Initiatives in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) College of Engineering & Applied Science since June 18, 2007. Beforehand, she taught online and on campus undergraduate and graduate courses for five years as an Adjunct Instructor in the UWM School of Information Studies (formerly School of Information Science). Concurrently, Pickering-Reyna directed the Information Technology 2000 Computer Training Project at UWM.

She holds a BA Cum Laude (1996) in Mass Communication and Journalism, MS in Urban Studies (1998), MLIS in Information Science (1998), and Ph.D. in Urban Education (2006) with a Specialization in Educational & Media Technology from UWM. She has a Graduate Certification in Non-Profit Management (2004) from the Helen Bader Institute for Non-Profit Management.

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

ASEE Topic: Undergraduate Retention and Development

Beyond Math Enrichment: Applied Practice with Life and Career Skills Intervention and Retention Applications Matter in Educating New Minority Freshmen


STEM and urban education along with educational psychology scholarship established four critical research areas that needed judicious exploration to systematically increase the exercise of effective instructional programming for minorities: 1) Early access to and sustained engagement with salient concepts (e.g., logical reasoning, managing complexity) that practically apply classroom theories, 2) Curriculum that supports cognitive development in proportion to students’ learning styles, 3) Peer and expert-model pedagogical agents as learning companions and social models, and 4) Considering sociocultural and gender issues in the other three areas. The research design for this study expected promising outcomes with broader applications for similar activities at other institutions based on the assumption that salient tenets of a statistically proven method, the Information Technology Life Skills Career Development (IT-LSCD) model, would transfer to a modified engineering and computer science (E/CS) learning system.

Efforts in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Engineering & Applied Science to infuse technical education with practical application, life skills counseling, career development instruction, and financial support made a difference in the preparation of new minority freshmen. Developing and testing the feasibility of the comprehensive quasi-bridge instructional system, Engineering & Computer Science Explorations III (ECSE III aka ex-see 3), through mixed methodology showed that the approach in this pilot significantly advanced all 10 participants (three mentors, seven mentees). Comparisons between pre- and post-program test scores showed significant aptitude improvement. Among mentees, five attained calculus with analytical geometry status and became scholarship worthy. Of the remaining three mentees, one tested out of trigonometry (not algebra) while the other two tested into both courses.

Broad fundamentals helped expand students’ experiences beyond math enrichment. All participants reported to have developed investigative responsiveness, increased their technical reflection abilities, formed presentation skills, established durable academic relationships, and gained networking confidence. Besides classroom and field instruction, the ECSE III strategy used multilevel mentoring, residential clustering in a Living Learning Community (LLC), professional associations, and enhancement activities during the ensuing academic semester. The goal was to improve student population diversity by increasing the number of minorities in E/CS disciplines through early access and preparation that concurrently addressed recruitment, matriculation, retention, and sustained support issues.

This paper depicts results that derived from examining ECSE III through the abovementioned lenses. The paper informs about participants’ traits, pre-program expectations, and post-program self-reported experiences. As well, the paper discloses gradations observed within ECSE III pre- post-program test scores, outcomes of tracking participants’ development during the ensuing fall semester, and suggestions for component modifications within ECSE III.

Pickering-Reyna, B. (2009, June), Beyond Math Enrichment: Applied Practice With Life And Career Skills Intervention And Retention Applications Matter In Educating New Minority Freshmen Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5303

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