June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.345.1 - 26.345.14
Characteristics of Students Self-Selecting into a Freshman Living- Learning Community for Engineers and Computer ScientistsIncoming freshmen to our School of Engineering and Applied Science have an option to self-select into a living-learning community (LLC, including dormitory and dining facilities). TheLLC is open solely to students indicating interest in pursuing disciplines in engineering orcomputer science. Based at a mid-sized, private university in the Inland Northwest of the UnitedStates, the School focuses efforts in this LLC with the parallel objectives of increasing retentionthrough the first-two years of university-level courses, encouraging greater confidence in thechoice of engineering as a major, and developing an appreciation among the students foreducational opportunities based in Entrepreneurially Minded Learning (EML). EML, inparticular, involves such activities as engineering-based challenges, external speakers, and in-dorm tutoring sessions run by upper-division students.The LLC houses approximately 20% of our incoming freshman. These students generallyremain within this LLC through their sophomore year. All students in the LLC have applied forthis opportunity prior to entering the university, and the number of applications has typicallybeen very similar to the number of open positions in the dormitory rooms (such that there arefew students turned away from this opportunity).A brief survey instrument applied last spring (Boggan, Bernabe and Sammut, 2014, unpublisheddata) indicated a number of positive indicators relative to students in the LLC (as compared tothose freshman not included in the LLC). These characteristics included higher retention into theengineering majors and higher satisfaction with the choice of engineering.In an effort to determine the degree to which these positive indicators were more closelyidentified with activities in the LLC or with student traits leading to self-selection to the LLCprior to entering the University, a paired survey instrument (beginning and end of fall semester)was used to separate such student self-identified characteristics as: (i) preparation for study in anengineering / computer-science discipline, (ii) probability of successful completion of anengineering / computer-science degree, and (iii) a series of personality traits (e.g., enterprising,creative, etc.).Results from this paired assessment are shown to be related to the earlier positive indicators.Specifically, these results indicate that the earlier results represent a combination of: (i) studentcharacteristics upon entering the university and (ii) activities within the LLC. As such, the LLCappears to have two positive impacts on retention of freshman students. First, the LLC appearsto attract relatively common-minded students, thus providing a strong atmosphere of commonmission. Second, the activities of the LLC appear to support these students through thechallenges of the first year engineering program.
Silliman, S. E., & Boggan, T., & Labay, V. A., & Ricco, G. D., & Girtz, S. (2015, June), Characteristics of Students Self-Selecting into a Freshman Living-Learning Community for Engineers and Computer Scientists Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23684
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