Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Electrical and Computer
Retention is a major problem for engineering majors, including Electrical and Computer Engineering students. Multiple factors contribute to retention issues, such as poor teaching and advising, the difficulty of the engineering curriculum, and lack of motivation resulting from poor connections to the engineering community. Statistics indicate a large drop in the continuation rate between the first and third years among Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) students. As students encounter increasing course difficulty in the early stages of their programs, they often lack motivation to persist because they have weak connections to their majors and potential careers in STEM. The Summer Interdisciplinary Team Experience (SITE), part of the National Science Foundation Science Talent Expansion Program aimed at increasing the number of bachelor degrees awarded in STEM fields, focused on students finishing sophomore-level courses in engineering, math, and physical sciences. The primary goal of SITE was to create a STEM community through participation in small research projects that students worked collaboratively on from concept to conclusion. In this 3-week summer program, students in interdisciplinary teams of ten worked closely with faculty mentors to develop solutions to socially relevant STEM problems. The projects emphasized hands-on activities and interdisciplinary team-based learning and decision making in order to keep students motivated and interested throughout the project. Faculty mentors first introduced the team to the project concept, then helped them develop the skills and knowledge needed to implement solutions. At the end of the 3-week period, each team made a formal presentation that discussed goals, methodologies, challenges and results. The presentations were accompanied by a live demonstration of the final product. Qualitative assessment based on participants’ answers to exit questionnaires show that the program accomplished its goal to increase motivation to complete the STEM major. Although our program was not limited to Under Represented Minority (URM) students, the participation of URM students far exceeds their representations in most of the participating STEM majors. Survey results show that participation in SITE was particularly beneficial for URM students.
Mirzaei, S., & Cadavid, A. C., & Pedone, V. A., & Horn, W., & Rich, H. (2018, June), Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research Through Projects From Concept To Completion Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30201
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