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Encouraging First-Year Engineering Retention through Course Help and Campus Community Engagement

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2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

Conference Session

Technical Session VI

Tagged Topics

Diversity and FYEE Conference Sessions

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Paper Authors


Rebecca R Essig Purdue University Fort Wayne Orcid 16x16

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Rebecca Essig is an Assistant Professor of Engineering and First Year Engineering Program Coordinator at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She received her BS, MS, and PhD from the Purdue University Lyles School of Civil Engineering in 2010, 2013, and 2016 respectively.

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Kimberly Warren O'Connor Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne

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Kimberly O'Connor (B.A. Purdue University; J.D. Loyola University School of Law) is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Leadership (OL). She is also the Director of Graduate Studies in OL. She is an attorney, licensed to practice law in the state of Indiana, and she teaches law courses in both the undergraduate and Master's degree programs in OL. Her primary research areas are employment law and cyber law, specifically related to the legal implications of social media use, data privacy, and sexting laws.

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S. Scott Moor P.E. Indiana University Purdue University, Fort Wayne

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Scott Moor is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Coordinator of First-year Engineering at Purdue University, Fort Wayne. He received a B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from MIT. After more than a decade in industry, he returned to academia at the University of California,
Berkeley, where he received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and an M.A. in statistics. He is a registered Professional Chemical Engineer in California. His research interests include engineering education with an emphasis on developing and testing educational materials and learning spaces that stimulate serious play.

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Sara Marie Thomas

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The transition to college is often a tumultuous time for students as many experience new cities, housing, friends, family dynamics, classes, and educational freedom. Because of these factors, and many unlisted, it is unfortunately common for students to leave their degree programs within the first year. At the authors’ institution, all engineering students are required to take a two-course sequence during their first-year engineering (FYE) program. There are traditionally low retention rates between the two courses with roughly 60% of students enrolling in the second course. The goal of this work-in-progress is to increase student retention between the two FYE courses by (1) introducing students to effective college study habits and (2) encouraging students to strengthen their investment in their campus through the participation in campus activities. The authors used a combination of assignments and guest presenters to incorporate these activities within the first FYE course including the following activities: • Student Success Resources: Through the usage of two administrative guest speakers, students were introduced to study resources available on campus such as professor office hours and campus tutoring. Speakers discussed the correct amount of time needed to study outside of class and the importance of time management. To supplement the presentations, students completed a time budgeting survey assignment and an assignment that asked students to attend either office hours or campus tutoring. The goals of these lessons were to encourage awareness of scheduling difficulties and to help students overcome the initial awkwardness often felt when asking an instructor or tutor for help. • Campus Activity Participation: Students were introduced to many student organizations on campus related to engineering throughout the course. Students were assigned to attend two campus activities and then write about their experiences. The goal of this activity was to help students develop an investment in the campus community. Per existing research, participation in campus activities not only develops a better student portfolio, but has also been shown to increase student persistence. These activities were specifically designed to incentivize students to use existing student success resources previously underutilized. As this project is ongoing, these particular activities have only been incorporated and data collected for one semester. However, coordinators of the course have included various student success lessons within previous semesters. Initial results presented will include tutoring attendance rates, retention rates, assignment completion percentage, and student opinions about the assignments. The results will include data from the fall semesters of 2015-2017. Initial analysis indicates a noticeable increase in retention after the implementation of these assignments, an increase in tutoring attendance, and positive student feedback.

Essig, R. R., & O'Connor, K. W., & Moor, S. S., & Thomas, S. M. (2018, July), Encouraging First-Year Engineering Retention through Course Help and Campus Community Engagement Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey. 10.18260/1-2--31397

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