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Evaluation Of A Summer Bridge Program On Engineering Students’ Persistence And Success

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Research on the First Year I

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.536.1 - 15.536.16



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Paper Authors

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Rhonda Kowalchuk Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

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Tarnisha Green Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

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Robert Ricks Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

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John Nicklow Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Evaluation of a Summer Bridge Program on Engineering Students’ Persistence and Success


The College of Engineering (COE) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) received a grant from the National Science Foundation to increase its graduation rate. In order to meet this objective the COE is focusing on improving retention rates at the freshman and sophomore levels because the attrition rate is highest during the first two years. The COE is implementing a holistic program to address common reasons for students leaving the engineering program, including lack of academic preparation; financial difficulties; difficulty in adjusting to college life; lack of a community atmosphere; and disappointment at not being able to experience engineering principles during the first two years. Following an initial planning period, the COE launched seven major initiatives in 2007 to achieve project goals. These initiatives include (1) an Engineering Residential College that forms the foundation of a new living-learning community; (2) a multi-tiered student mentoring program that includes peer-to-peer mentoring, faculty mentoring, and practicing-engineer mentoring; (3) an innovative Introduction to Engineering course; (4) common cohort classes for several courses; (5) a new developmental mathematics course for underprepared students; (6) peer tutoring; and (7) a six-week Summer Bridge Program for at-risk students. This paper focuses on one initiative, the Summer Bridge Program.

The Summer Bridge Program is designed to integrate first-year students into the socio-academic environment of the COE at an early stage. The program consists of non-credit bearing workshops focusing on an intensive pre-calculus math review, an engineering science preview, and a freshmen orientation seminar. Preference has been given to the following: (1) underserved populations; (2) students who would not be ready for Calculus based on math placement test results and/or ACT math sub-scores; and (3) students who have been unconditionally admitted to the College for the following fall term.

This study examines two cohorts of freshman students who participated in the 2007 and 2008 Summer Bridge Program. Evaluation of the program includes a single group pre-post design to measure academic progress and attitude changes from the beginning to the end of the six-week program and follow-up tracking of enrollment status, program progress, and grades for students who participated in the program. Specifically, Math grades were examined to determine student success in their recommended math course placement. An additional evaluation of the program is a comparison of the success (e.g., retention rate) of students who participated in the program to those students who enrolled in the COE during the subsequent fall semester. An overall goal of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Summer Bridge Program in terms of contributing to engineering students’ persistence and success.


Research on engineering students’ persistence and success has received a great deal of attention in the literature. According to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) 1 “Only 40-60 percent of entering engineering students persist to an engineering degree, and women and minorities are at the low end of that range. These retention rates represent an unacceptable

Kowalchuk, R., & Green, T., & Ricks, R., & Nicklow, J. (2010, June), Evaluation Of A Summer Bridge Program On Engineering Students’ Persistence And Success Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16556

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