June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.469.1 - 26.469.13
Design of an extended engineering curriculum to increase retention andequityEngineers provide the backbone for economic development and infrastructure provision in asociety. The dearth of engineers in South Africa is hampering its ability to meet both itsinternal social development needs and to compete globally. Poor throughput rates inengineering degree programs are exacerbating the problem. Of the 2006 entering cohort ofstudents only 23% completed their degrees in the regulation time of four years, and 41%completed after five years. Of black African students, only 9% completed in four years and22% in five years. There are thus both social and economic imperatives for improvingretention and equity in engineering programmes.In 2010 the university of [name] introduced the Engineering Augmented Degree Programme(ENGAGE) to address the retention and equity problems. ENGAGE students enrol for aplanned five-year programme. Four design principles informed the structure of theprogramme: 1. Students should be supported in making the transition from high school to university. 2. Student workload (time students spend working) should be high throughout. 3. The volume of work (amount of content covered) should be low initially and increase over time. 4. Support should be high initially and decrease over time. 5. Students should encounter familiar subjects early in the program, less familiar subjects later on.These principles were operationalised by creating additional, credit-bearing modules toaccompany all 100 level mainstream modules, spreading the 100 and 200 level modules overthree years and postponing the introduction of engineering modules from year 1 to year 2. Inyear 1 students take two Professional Orientation modules in which academic and life skillsare developed within an engineering context. The ENGAGE program also incorporates othersuccessful teaching and learning practices, such as CDIO projects, learning communities andstudent engagement.One-year retention rates for students in 4- and 5-year programs are shown in Table 1 from2009, before ENGAGE, to 2011. The figures for black students are shown in Table 2.Table 1: One-year retention figures for students in 4 and 5 year programs Initially registered Still registered one year laterYear of 4-year 5-year TOTAL 4-year degree 5-year degree TOTALentry degree degree2009 847 208 1055 645 (76.2%) 101 (48.6%) 746 (70.7%)2010 794 288 1082 632 (79.7%) 188 (75.4%) 820 (78.5%)2011 691 366 1057 600 (86.8%) 278 (76.0%) 878 (83.1%)Table 2: One-year retention figures for black African students in 4 and 5 year programs Initially registered Still registered one year laterYear of 4-year 5-year TOTAL 4-year degree 5-year degree TOTALentry degree degree2009 204 104 308 143 (70.1%) 55 (52.9%) 198 (64.3%)2010 202 103 305 148 (73.3%) 80 (77.6%) 228 (74.8%)2011 167 156 323 141 (84.4%) 125 (80.1%) 266 (82.4%)The tables show that after two years of running ENGAGE, more students were placed in the5-year program, one-year retention figures increased for both 4 and 5 year program students,there was an increase in the both the number and percentage of students retained and theretention rate for black African students was nearly the same as for the whole student cohort.In the future, longitudinal data on completion rates will be collected.
Grayson, D., & Müller, E. (2015, June), Design of an Extended Engineering Curriculum to Increase Retention and Equity Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23807
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