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Board 109: Retention-focused, S-STEM Supported Program

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Melissa Lynn Morris West Virginia University

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Melissa Morris is currently a Teaching Associate Professor for the Freshman Engineering Program, in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University (WVU). She graduated Summa cum Laude with a BSME in 2006, earned a MSME in 2008, and completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering in 2011, all from WVU. At WVU, she has previously served as the Undergraduate and Outreach Advisor for the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and the Assistant Director of the Center for Building Energy Efficiency. She has previously taught courses such as Thermodynamics, Thermal Fluids Laboratory, and Guided Missiles Systems, as well as serving as a Senior Design Project Advisor for Mechanical Engineering Students. Her research interests include energy and thermodynamic related topics. Since 2007 she has been actively involved in recruiting and outreach for the Statler College, as part of this involvement Dr. Morris frequently makes presentations to groups of K-12 students, as well as perspective WVU students and their families.

Dr. Morris was selected as a Statler College Outstanding Teacher for 2012, the WVU Honors College John R. Williams Outstanding Teacher for 2012, and the 2012 Statler College Teacher of the Year.

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Robin A. M. Hensel West Virginia University

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Robin A. M. Hensel, Ed.D., is the Assistant Dean for Freshman Experience in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. While her doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on higher education teaching of STEM fields, she also holds B.S. and M.A. degrees in Mathematics. Dr. Hensel has over seven years of experience working in engineering teams and in project management and administration as a Mathematician and Computer Systems Analyst for the U. S. Department of Energy as well as more than 25 years of experience teaching mathematics, statistics, computer science, and freshman engineering courses in higher education institutions. Currently, she leads a team of faculty who are dedicated to providing first year engineering students with a high-quality, challenging, and engaging educational experience with the necessary advising, mentoring, and academic support to facilitate their transition to university life and to prepare them for success in their engineering discipline majors and future careers.

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Joseph Dygert West Virginia University

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Ph.D student in aerospace engineering at West Virginia University

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This work in progress paper discusses XXX, an NSF S-STEM supported program, which employs known best practices to support and retain underrepresented students in engineering through graduation. The goal is to graduate more students from underrepresented populations in an effort to ultimately diversity the engineering workforce.

This paper describes this program’s unique implementation of a specific subset of retention best practices, such as facilitating (1) the development of both a feeling of institutional inclusion and engineering identity by providing opportunities for faculty-student and student-student interaction as well as major and career exploration, (2) academic support, including support for the development of broader success skills, such as time management, and (3) professional development. These opportunities are embedded in an organized, cohort-based, program consisting of: (1) a brief summer bridge program, (2) a common fall professional development course, and (3) a common spring course exploring the role of engineering in societal development. Throughout its implementation, the program faced and addressed challenges related to recruitment as well as program length and cost.

Now, in its eighth year, three with S-STEM funding, an analysis of program data provides evidence of increased retention of the targeted populations in engineering to the second year, but only a small positive effect on overall retention. Results of investigations of why students leave, lessons learned through the development, implementation, and assessment of this program, and suggested actions for continued progress in increasing retention of underrepresented populations are presented.

Morris, M. L., & Hensel, R. A. M., & Dygert, J. (2019, June), Board 109: Retention-focused, S-STEM Supported Program Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32183

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