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Chasing the Holy Grail: Successful Academic Persistence and Retention of Highly Motivated First-Year Engineering Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 4A: Retention Programs and Strategies

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Jamie Bracey Temple University

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Dr. Jamie M. Bracey is an educational psychologist and Director of K-12 STEM Education, Outreach and Research for Temple University's College of Engineering. Dr. Bracey is responsible for developing programs that foster student identity development and motivation to persist, managing external community relations, state policy development, and collaborative research partnerships that support continuous improvement in teaching and learning. In addition to directing the Pennsylvania Math, Engineering & Science Achievement (MESA) as part of a 10-state coalition for K-12 engineering education, Dr. Bracey is a national advisor to the AAC&U Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM (TIDES) initiative, the Google Computer Science EDGE initiative, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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Keyanoush Sadeghipour Temple University

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Keya Sadeghipour is currently a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering and serves as the Dean of the College of Engineering since 2003. He is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Technology, UK which is now the University of Manchester. In addition to his administrative roles, he has guided several research and industrial related projects. He has been involved in receiving over $7 M funding from various industrial and government sources and has been the principle author of numerous papers in national/international journals and publications. He is a fellow of the ASME and an evaluator for the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) as well as member of several national and international organizations. He is also the recipient of Temple University exceptional research award. His current research interests are in the areas of dental materials (NIH), Bioengineering (Various sources), and Intelligent Manufacturing Systems.

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Carnell Baugh Independent

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Carnell Baugh is a doctoral candidate in Educational Psychology at Temple University. He has 14 years of experience in Data Analytics and Applied Statistics in the areas of: Performance, Education, Healthcare and Telecommunications.

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Shawn Fagan Temple University

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Shawn Fagan is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Engineering at Temple University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Education from The Pennsylvania State University, Master of Sport Administration from Belmont University and Master of Business Administration from Saint Leo University. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership – Higher Education at Temple University. He oversees the day-to-day operation of the College of Engineering’s Office of Undergraduate Studies which houses the student academic support and advising services.

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Chasing the Holy Grail: Successful Academic Persistence and Retention of Highly Motivated 1st Year Engineering Students

The 2012 ASEE report “Going the Distance” outlined efforts of exemplary engineering institutions to promote undergraduate engineering retention, with particular emphasis on student-level support and interventions like tutoring, advising and co-curricular activities. This paper outlines efforts at a rapidly growing college of engineering to reduce attrition by 10% by better understanding 1st year students cognitive and non-cognitive profiles, testing an applied engineering math course, and incrementally shifting faculty and administrative culture from transactional relationships to higher quality student engagement for 1st year students. Between Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 qualitative data was collected measuring new students’ initial “grit”, motivations and career expectations. The total sample (N=509) consisted of 84% freshmen, 16% transfers, 21% women and 14% minority students. Quantitative data included an analysis of the high school SATs and initial university math placement scores for Fall 2014-Fall 2015, a comparative analysis of the same data for the Fall 2011-Fall 2013 cohorts, and an analysis of student outcomes from an adapted version of the Wright State University’s EGR101 applied engineering math course, offered to students most at risk for failing math in the first year. This paper will outline the interventions, discuss the successful 10% drop in attrition across the two cohorts, and share progress shifting institutional culture to retain more highly motivated students beyond the first year.

Bracey, J., & Sadeghipour, K., & Baugh, C., & Fagan, S. (2016, June), Chasing the Holy Grail: Successful Academic Persistence and Retention of Highly Motivated First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26492

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