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Correlating Freshman Engineers’ Performance in a General Chemistry Course to Their Use of Supplemental Instruction

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

WIED: Curricular Undergraduate Student Programs

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.323.1 - 24.323.22



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Paper Authors

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Kristen B. Coletti Northeastern University

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Emily Olina Wisniewski

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Rachel Lauren Shapiro Northeastern University


Paul A. DiMilla Northeastern University

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Paul A. DiMilla is an Associate Academic Specialist in Chemistry & Chemical Biology and Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University. He received his S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, both in Chemical Engineering. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemistry at Harvard University prior to beginning his faculty career in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he co-founded Automated Cell, Inc. He has been a Visiting Professor of Bioengineering at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering as well as a Visiting Scholar in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. He also has led R&D teams at Organogenesis Inc. and Polymerix Corporation developing tissue-engineered medical products and drug- generating biodegradable polymers, respectively. He is the inventor on ten issued US patents. He has been the recipient of the first Whitaker Young Investigator Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, a Searle Scholar Award, and an Early Career Development Award from the NSF as well as a two-time recipient of the Omega Chi Epsilon Outstanding Faculty Award from the Xi Chapter of Northeastern Student Affiliate of American Institute of Chemical Engineers and of the Outstanding Teacher of First Year Engineering Students from the College of Engineering at Northeastern. He recently has published the textbook General Chemistry for Engineers with Cognella Academic Publishing.

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Rachelle Reisberg Northeastern University

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Rachelle Reisberg is Assistant Dean for Engineering Enrollment and Retention as well as Director of Women in Engineering at Northeastern University. Prior to joining Northeastern University, Rachelle held a wide range of management positions and was the President of a high tech start-up company.

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Melinda Covert Northeastern University

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Melinda Covert graduated in May of 2013 from Northeastern University with a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering. During her time at Northeastern, she held two co-op positions at The Shaw Group (now Technip) and Dow Electronic Materials. Melinda is currently employed as a Process Design Engineer for Stantec Consulting in Albany, NY where she provides design services in the consumer healthcare, food, pharmaceutical, and chemical processing industries.

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Correlating Freshman Engineers’ Performance in a General Chemistry Course to Their Use of Supplemental InstructionAbstractThis study examines the correlation between first year engineering students’ use of supplementalinstruction and their performance in a required general chemistry course. Supplementalinstruction includes one-on-one and group peer tutoring, review sessions outside of scheduledclass time, instructor/TA office hours, and student-initiated study groups. Previous research hasshown that supplemental instruction is positively correlated with measurable factors such ashigher grade point averages and timely graduation rates, as well as less-easily measured factorssuch as long-term retention of course material, teamwork, communication skills, informationprocessing skills, and motivation. Last year, a study done at _________ University examinedwhat grade level triggered students to seek out supplemental instruction and what factorsaffected whether a student uses a form of supplemental instruction. This present study focuseson comparing course grades between students who do and do not use different forms ofsupplemental instruction and correlating these outcomes with factors deterring students fromthese resources.In order to understand a student’s pre-disposition and ultimate choice to participate insupplemental instruction as well as determine correlations with grade distribution, students in arequired general chemistry course were given pre-surveys at the beginning and post-surveys atend of the semester. Overall, 408 first year engineering students participated (a response rate of83%), including 332 non-honors students (26% female) and 76 honors students (45% female).Previous experiences have suggested that honors students would make less use of supplementalinstruction and on average have higher grades than the non-honors students.One focus of the pre-survey was on identifying a student’s predisposed “trigger point” at whichs/he decides to seek extra help entering college. In this current survey, females had a highertrigger threshold of A/B compared to B/C for males, similar to previous results. The availabilityof data for different types of course assessments, including exams, homework, and classparticipation, now has enabled correlation among individual trigger points, grades, and the use ofdifferent forms of supplemental instruction. Other factors assessed included whether a studentparticipated in pre-college preparatory programs (such as a summer bridge). This study alsoinvestigated how important convenience factors, such as time, frequency, and location of extrahelp, and incentive factors, such as food or friends attending a resource, are to students in theirdecision to use supplemental instruction. In both previous and the current surveys students haverated convenience factors as most important. This year’s study furthered this analysis todetermine what factors deter students from using specific resources for supplemental instructionas well as the impact of taking part in activities viewed as detrimental for course success, such asusing cell phones or laptops for activities unrelated to a class, sleeping in the classroom, orskipping class.This paper presents the survey results, methodology used, conclusions, and recommendations forincreasing first year engineering student usage of supplemental instruction.

Coletti, K. B., & Wisniewski, E. O., & Shapiro, R. L., & DiMilla, P. A., & Reisberg, R., & Covert, M. (2014, June), Correlating Freshman Engineers’ Performance in a General Chemistry Course to Their Use of Supplemental Instruction Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20214

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