June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
This work aims to preliminarily assess the effectiveness of an undergraduate engineering retention program recently implemented at Colorado State University. Undergraduate engineering students are typically required to take introductory math, chemistry, and physics concurrently with their first year engineering curriculum. According to previous studies, success in these core courses is an integral part of a successful engineer's training and development, both in their pure content as well as the introduction to a variety of problem solving techniques. These subjects are studied in order to provide the groundwork necessary to develop an effective engineer. However, one theory behind low undergraduate retention in engineering is disinterest in these core courses. As the basis of this study, we suggest that students who enroll in engineering are most looking forward to the engineering aspect of the coursework, and are thus surprised at the high volume of what they perceive to be non-engineering/irrelevant content from core courses in their first semester year of their undergraduate degree. This causes disinterest in, and potentially departure from, the engineering discipline as a whole.
In order to combat this disinterest, a new program implemented by the College of Engineering at CSU employs engineering graduate students to serve as "Learning Assistants" within these core classes in order to help connect concepts from core subjects to those covered in various engineering disciplines. This is done using a combination of lecture review, active learning techniques, and open question-and answer in optional 1.5 hour sessions called Learning Labs (LLs) twice a week for each subject. Each LL is designed to be specific its related core course, and looks at these math, chemistry, or physics concepts in the context of engineering topics.
More specifically, this study examines the effectiveness of this Learning Lab model by looking at a combination of (1) Learning Lab attendance data, (2) first-year engineering student feedback (taking introductory course in Mechanical Engineering (MECH 103), Civil Engineering (CIVE 102), and Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE 101)), (3) feedback from the GTFs holding LLs , and (4) enrollment in the second semester engineering course for first-year students as a means of gauging initial retention after implementation of the LL model. The student and GTF feedback were collected in the form of surveys which asked for perceived effectiveness and as convenience of the LLs, among other questions surrounding retention. A major aim is to gain an understanding of engineering student retention at the end of the semester and compare it to previous cohorts of first-year engineering students. We quantify this through a combination of first-year course data as well as survey responses in regards to intentions to stay or leave students’ chosen programs, and reasons behind these intentions. This preliminary study evaluates effectiveness of the new retention effort and simultaneously elucidate limitations and area of improvement for its future implementations.
Huq, N. A., & Xu, W., & Movafaghi, S., & Hemmati, M. (2017, June), Evaluating the Effectiveness of Implementing Active Learning Opportunities for First-Year Engineering Students who are Taking Math, Physics, and Chemistry Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28303
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