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Engineering Learning Communities

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

First-Year Programs (FPD) Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.513.1 - 23.513.11

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Paper Authors

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Pamela Renee Lockwood West Texas A&M University


Emily M. Hunt West Texas A&M University

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Dr. Hunt joined the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering at West Texas A&M University in 2005. She received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech. University in 2001, 2002 and 2005, respectively. She is currently serving as the interim director of the School of Engineering and Computer Science at West Texas A&M University
Dr. Hunt teaches primarily in the thermal fluid sciences including fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. She is the author of Nanostructured Metallic Alloys: Synthesis, Properties, and Applications and the popular children’s book Engineering Elephants. She has co-authored several publications and has made numerous presentations as an invited speaker, both nationally and internationally.
Dr. Hunt is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, Materials Research Society, and the American Society of Engineering Education and serves as the adviser for the student sections of ASME and SWE at WTAMU. Her research interests include energetic/explosive material reactions and synthesis, high-speed infrared imaging, and engineering education and assessment. She currently holds two patents for work in developing novel nanostructured materials.

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Engineering Learning CommunitiesABSTRACT Learning communities are used widely across the country as a means of increasingretention of first year students at the university level. Living learning communities wherestudents of the same major reside in a common residential hall of university campuses arecommon in engineering programs across the country and their results are prevalent in theliterature. However, the pedagogical approach of curricular learning communities which enroll acohort of students into two or more common courses typically linked by a common theme, arerarely used in engineering education. In fall 2008 a regional institution of 8000 students in thesouth central U.S. began offering learning communities for first year engineering majors. Thegoal of this program was to create a community among the first year engineering students, andinstigate study groups early in their academic career which would offer support through thegateway mathematics, science and engineering courses. Engineering learning communitiesinitially were created linking Precalculus and Fundamentals of Engineering or Calculus I andFundamentals of Engineering for first semester freshman engineering majors. By studentrequest the experiences were expanded in 2010 to a second semester sequence linking CalculusII and Engineering Statics. Propensity score analysis was used to evaluate the impact of the Engineering LearningCommunities on first year retention of student in engineering and at the university. The methodof propensity scores was used to obtain a matched comparison group from historical andconcurrently enrolled first year engineering majors. The covariates of interest were: full-time orpart-time status, sex, first generation status, age, ACT composite score, transfer or native student,and socio-economic status. Rate of retention was then compared for those enrolled in thelearning community versus the matched control group. First year engineering majors whoparticipated in a learning community were retained in engineering at a rate of 53% in comparisonto 46% for those not enrolled in the learning community. Although not statistically significant(p=0.0924), after matching students enrolled in the engineering community were retained inengineering and at the university at a higher rate than those not enrolled in the learningcommunity experience.

Lockwood, P. R., & Hunt, E. M. (2013, June), Engineering Learning Communities Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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