June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 7: The Transition from High School to College
26.300.1 - 26.300.24
Building a Summer Bridge Program to Increase Retention and Academic Success in First-Year Engineering StudentsThis paper reports on a grant-funded summer bridge program developed for incoming first-yearengineering students who were not academically prepared to start Calculus 1. The six-week,residential, pre-college program was offered for the first time in the summer of 2014. Theprimary purpose of the program was to help students develop in their math proficiency so theycould begin their freshman year on track toward their engineering or computer science degree.The summer bridge program was developed in conjunction with a multi-year grant-fundedretention program at the School of Engineering at the University of X, a private, Catholicinstitution serving approximately 3700 undergraduate students; of those 3700, approximately700 are engineering students.Program ObjectivesThe program was informed by Social Constructivist Learning Theory, which asserts that learningand development cannot occur outside of social and environmental contexts. To increaseretention and success of first-year engineering students, the summer bridge program wasdesigned to 1) Allow students to enter their freshman year on-track academically and gainexposure to college-level coursework; 2) Provide the information and support necessary toensure a smooth transition into college; 3) Enhance student interest in and commitment to theengineering field; and 4) Help students build community on campus.Program DetailsThere were 240 engineering students who entered the University of X in Fall 2014. Of those 240,42 did not place into Calculus 1, making them eligible for the summer bridge program; 11students participated in the summer bridge program. The entire cost of the program, excludingmeals, was subsidized by the grant, providing access for students with high financial need.During the bridge program, students took Pre-Calculus II and Intro to Theology, allowing thosewho completed both courses to enter their first year one course ahead. In addition to takingclasses, students also participated in site visits to local companies, and attended workshopsintended to introduce students to campus life. Throughout their time in the program, participantslived in the same residence hall and had the support of a peer mentor, who served as an academicand social resource for students.AssessmentThere were three assessments conducted during the summer bridge program: a pre-assessmentsurvey at the beginning of the program, and a post-assessment survey and focus group after theconclusion of the program. Data from the pre-assessment survey demonstrated that moststudents’ expectations were to build fundamental math skills, to learn more about the engineeringfield, and to get acquainted with University of X. Data from the post-assessment survey andfocus group demonstrated that students felt that after completing the program they had improvedin their math and writing skills, learned about the field of engineering, and had been successfullyoriented to college.
Cairncross, C., & Jones, S. A., & Naegele, Z., & VanDeGrift, T. (2015, June), Building a Summer Bridge Program to Increase Retention and Academic Success for First-year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23639
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