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Evaluating a Multi-Campus Undergraduate Research Program to Improve Retention of 2+2 Engineering Students

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

2-Year College Division: Collaboration Between Institutions

Tagged Division

Two-Year College

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34592

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34592

Download Count

124

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Paper Authors

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Cynthia Howard-Reed Pennsylvania State University

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Cynthia Howard Reed is the Assistant Director for Student Research and Graduate Equity and an Assistant Teaching Professor in the College of Engineering at Penn State. She has a MS in Environmental Health Engineering and PhD in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and received her BS in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University. Prior to her position at Penn State, Dr. Reed conducted research in the field of indoor air quality at the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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Jennifer X Wu Pennsylvania State University

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Jennifer Wu is the Director of Engineering Institutional Research and Associate Research Professor in the College of Engineering at Penn State. She has a PhD in Educational Administration from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Prior to her current position at Penn State College of Engineering, she has had diverse experiences in academic advising, global programs, multi-cultural training and communications, and cocurricular event management, all in land-grant university settings.

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Erin A Hostetler Pennsylvania State University

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Erin Hostetler is the Director for Student Research and Graduate Equity. Erin specializes in administering Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs, with a focus on increasing access to research and ensuring a standard and equitable experience for REU participants. Erin holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.Ed. in College Student Affairs. An alumna of Penn State, Erin has been with the College of Engineering for five years, and a staff member at Penn State for 16 years.

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Abstract

Evaluating an Undergraduate Research Program to Improve Retention of 2 + 2 Engineering Students

An increasingly common pathway for students to obtain an engineering degree is through a 2 + 2 model. At a State University, this model has been implemented through students spending their first two years at a regional campus and then transferring to the main campus to finish their degrees. Although there are several programs in place to help with this transition, recent data show a significantly higher attrition rate for transfer students compared to their counterparts who started at the main campus. In 2015, the University Administration and College of Engineering established an undergraduate research program in an attempt to improve retention of transfer students. This program is an 8-week research experience for regional campus STEM students that includes working with a faculty for 6 weeks at their home campus and spending 2 weeks with a faculty on the main campus. In addition, students engage in professional development and team building activities. To date, over 280 regional campus students have participated in the undergraduate research program during its five-year tenure. Additional goals of the program include broadening education for regional campus students, increasing the number of regional campus students entering graduate studies, and promoting mutual awareness and collaboration among faculty across the state. Anecdotal evidence has indicated a positive effect on the retention of student participants who transfer to finish degrees at the main campus. To confirm this positive correlation, a longitudinal statistical study was conducted to examine the retention rate of the students who participated in the undergraduate research program with that of other 2 + 2 students. Results from this study have the potential to confirm an undergraduate research experience as a viable strategy to improve retention of students participating in the 2 + 2 pathway to an engineering degree.

Howard-Reed, C., & Wu, J. X., & Hostetler, E. A. (2020, June), Evaluating a Multi-Campus Undergraduate Research Program to Improve Retention of 2+2 Engineering Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34592

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