July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Abstract This study evaluates the impact of learning communities on the retention rate of first-year engineering students. The Engineering Learning Community (ELC) at a large urban university is a program that purposefully recruits talented high school applicants from underrepresented racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. The ELC enrolls these applicants into cohort-specific sections of classes and provides mentoring and additional resources for the students’ freshman year. The results of the first three years of the ELC program was presented at ASEE 2020. Currently in its fourth year, the ELC program has undergone numerous revisions and improvements based upon student and faculty feedback and increased financial resources. The main feature of the fourth year ELC program is the addition of up to $20 K in scholarship from a S-STEM NSF award. Another significant change in the fourth year is the re-design of the mentorship program. COVID-19 arrived in the middle of the spring semester and added its own challenges to the fourth year of ELC program. The impact of COVID-19 on the students’ response to the pandemic has been studied as well. To take a first look at the efficacy of the ELC program over four iterations, current student grade point averages of ELC students from each cohort were compared. We hypothesize that students from cohort 4 will have the highest overall GPA given that they have accessed the most recent iteration of the ELC, which includes scholarship funding, improved student to mentor ratios and a newly redesigned special topics course. Analysis of Variance of GPAs reveals that cohort 4 has a significantly higher GPA after one year in the ELC than cohort 2, but no significant differences between cohort 4 and cohorts 1 and 3. Further analysis shows no significant differences in high school GPA between the cohorts, indicating that the improvements in cohort 4 are not due changes in recruiting practices. Additional research is suggested to compare GPAs and class grades at the end of the freshman year of ELC participation across all cohorts. Alternatively, the GPA of students in all four cohorts will be compared to the GPA of the students that did not participate in ELC program.
Howland Cummings, M., & Darbeheshti, M., & Simon, G. E., & Schupbach, W. T., & Jacobson, M. S., & Altman, T., & Goodman, K. (2021, July), Comparing Student Outcomes From Four Iterations of an Engineering Learning Community Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36519
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