Asee peer logo

Correlation Between Academic Credit-use Policies and Student Persistence in Multidisciplinary Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Courses

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Programs

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


J. Sonnenberg-Klein Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Assistant Director, Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program, Georgia Institute of Technology; Doctoral student in Education at Georgia State University, with a concentration in Research, Measurement and Statistics; Master of Education in Education Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

visit author page


Edward J. Coyle Georgia Institute of Technology

visit author page

Edward J. Coyle is the John B. Peatman Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, directs the Arbutus Center for the Integration of Research and Education, and is the founder of the Vertically-Integrated Projects (VIP) Program. He is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and was a co-recipient of both the National Academy of Engineering’s 2005 Bernard M. Gordon Award for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education and ASEE's 1997 Chester F. Carlson Award. Dr. Coyle is a Fellow of the IEEE and his research interests include engineering education, wireless networks, and digital signal processing.

visit author page

author page

Randal T. Abler Georgia Institute of Technology

Download Paper |


In the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program, undergraduates earn academic credit for their participation in long-term, large-scale, multidisciplinary project teams that are created at the request of faculty to assist them with their research and other innovative activities. The students contribute their disciplinary skills to the project, collaborate with students from other disciplines, and learn and practice many professional skills. A key to launching and maintaining productive VIP teams is having students participate for multiple semesters, sometimes up to six semesters. This allows students to develop deeper expertise and take on increasing levels of responsibility. Academic departments have established a range of credit-use policies for VIP courses, with some departments incentivizing multiple semesters of participation, with different incentives and varying thresholds for each policy. Beyond curricular policies, the number of semesters students participate in VIP may be affected by matches/mismatches between students and their instructors’ departments, as well as student academic rank in their first semester of VIP. This study describes policies for the four academic units with highest enrollments in VIP at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and examines the number of semesters students (N = 869) participate in VIP by policy, by academic rank, and by matches-mismatches between student and instructor departments. In a secondary analysis, persistence rates are compared for a degree program before and after an incentivizing credit-use policy was established (N = 45). Results show correlation between higher persistence and two policies: 1) allowing all VIP credits to count as in-major electives after a minimum number are earned; and 2) allowing students to fulfill a design sequence requirement through VIP, with no additional planning/requirements beyond the normal design sequence. The study employed chi-square analysis for all but one analysis, because assumptions for analysis of variance were not met. These findings will be of use to existing and prospective VIP Programs, as well as institutions and departments seeking to increase student persistence in undergraduate research.

Sonnenberg-Klein, J., & Coyle, E. J., & Abler, R. T. (2018, June), Correlation Between Academic Credit-use Policies and Student Persistence in Multidisciplinary Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30227

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015