June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.536.1 - 14.536.18
Engaging Early Engineering Students (EEES): Background and Goals of an NSF STEP Project to Increase Retention
Early “leavers” from engineering programs typically fall into one of two overlapping categories: (a) those who leave because of academic difficulties and (b) those who leave because they find the educational environment of early engineering to be hostile and/or not engaging. This paper describes a new NSF STEP project, EEES, that is a suite of four articulated programs that is designed to ease the transition of high school students into engineering undergraduate programs, and, by making the transition smoother, to increase the retention rate of early engineering students. Analysis of internal statistics has revealed key courses that are pivotal in promoting retention: early mathematics courses, first term physics, and a computational tools-for-problem- solving course.
The EEES project is a collaborative effort between the College of Engineering at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College. EEES consists of four content subprograms: (a) a program to provide formative assessments in the key courses with follow-on “bootstrapping” tutorials, (b) a supplemental instruction program which we call the PAL (peer-assisted learning) subproject, (c) a program to directly engage engineering faculty with early engineering students, and (d) a program to develop and exploit course material from one key course in another. Our effort is not a conglomeration of the four independent subprojects; rather EEES is a system of four interrelated, articulated programs that will be more effective than the sum of its parts.
We are approximately six months into a five year project; we do not present results in this paper. Rather, here we describe the motivation for our project, our explicit goals, the broad project architecture for our entire effort, and end with our current status. This report will set the stage for three companion papers, and for a series of future reports. The three companion papers describe our subproject applying “supplemental instruction,” a second subproject connecting our faculty more effectively to our early engineering students, and a third paper describing the methodology for research analysis that we will employ.
1. Motivation: Importance of increasing STEM numbers
To sustain US leadership in science and technology we must increase the number of undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). An estimate from The Information Technology Association of America indicates that by 2015, a doubling in the number of STEM degrees will be required to keep pace with expected job openings.1 Yet the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation (NSB/NSF) recently reported trends in the growth of STEM degrees that does not remotely approach the numbers required. Moreover, NSB also reported that the United States production of STEM
Sticklen, J., & Wolff, T., & Bauer, W., & Briedis, D., & Buch, N., & Ehrlich, N., & Courtney, J., & Heckman, R., & Fleming, D., & Paquette, L., & Mickelson, R., & Urban-Lurain, M., & Weil, C. (2009, June), Engaging Early Engineering Students (Eees): Background And Goals Of An Nsf Step Project To Increase Retention Of Early Engineering Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5607
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