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Effect of Cohorts on Student Retention in Engineering

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Paying More Attention to Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Patricia R. Backer San Jose State University

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Dr. Backer been a faculty at SJSU since 1990 and held positions as an assistant professor, associate professor, professor, department chair, and director. Since coming to San Jose State University in 1990, she has been involved in the General Education program. Currently, Dr. Backer serves as the PI for two SJSU grants: the AANAPISI grant and the Title III Strengthening grant both from the U.S. Department of Education.

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Cindy Kato

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Project Succeed is a campus-wide initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Its focus is to improve the 5-year graduation and retention rates and close the achievement gap for Under-Represented Minorities (URMs) across all majors at San José State University (SJSU). There are three major goals: strengthen SJSU’s core academic performance in retention and graduation; provide an improved supportive environment for URM students; and enhance the delivery and integration of academic and co-curricular support services.

For Fall 2015, newly matriculated students in the College of Business, College of Engineering, and Child and Adolescent Development Department (CHAD) were assigned schedules that included at least two shared classes with other students in their declared majors. A total of 1,272 new freshmen (37%) of the class participated in the block scheduling program. The block scheduling approach had a significant difference in student retention among engineering freshmen as compared to previous years and led to more retention of freshmen after one year. For students in the College of Business, the one-year retention rate for Fall 2015 freshmen was 88% compared to 87.4% for Fall 2014 freshmen. For students in the College of Engineering, the one-year retention rate for Fall 2015 freshmen was 90% compared to 87.5% for Fall 2014 freshmen. For CHAD students, the one-year retention rate for Fall 2015 freshmen was 90.3% compared to 81.4% for Fall 2014 freshmen. There was also a difference in the retention of URM students. In this paper, we will discuss the techniques and strategies used in block scheduling the engineering students in Fall 2015 and Fall 2016. Also, we will discuss the results of student opinion of block scheduling.

Backer, P. R., & Kato, C. (2017, June), Effect of Cohorts on Student Retention in Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

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