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Curriculum Restructuring For Freshman Retention In The 1990s And Beyond

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.182.1 - 3.182.5

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James R. Etchison

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1547

Curriculum Restructuring for Freshman Retention in the 1990s and Beyond

James R. Etchison Electronics Engineering Technology Department Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls, Oregon 97601

Abstract - In 1994-95, freshmen in the Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) program at Oregon Institute of Technology began enrolling in a curriculum which had been restructured to improve student retention. During the first two years in which the new curriculum was in place, the number of students completing EET freshman courses and a sophomore semiconductor devices course with a "C" or better grade increased from 68% to 81%. This paper describes how OIT's freshman EET curriculum was modified, and encourages others to "stay the course" in terms of academic rigor in their programs, but to consider curriculum restructuring as a way to improve student retention.


Freshman retention has always been a source of concern for technical college educators, even during the enrollment boom years of the 1980s. But when enrollment in engineering and technology programs began to wane near the end of that decade, efforts to improve student retention took on a new sense of urgency nearly equal to that assigned to student recruiting efforts. By the 1990s, no technical institutions appeared to be exempt from this situation. At Oregon Institute of Technology, for example, even though the employment market for graduates was strong and growing, our enrollment was in decline. The need to recruit new students into the technologies was obvious, but the need to retain more of the students once they arrived on campus became equally clear after examining student attrition, especially during the first year of college.

This paper describes the OIT Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) department's successful approach to improving freshman retention, in the hope that others might profit from our experience. The paragraphs which follow will define the problem as we perceived it prior to our most recent major curriculum revision, discuss solution alternatives, the selected course of action, and the results.

Etchison, J. R. (1998, June), Curriculum Restructuring For Freshman Retention In The 1990s And Beyond Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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