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Examining the Transition to Engineering: A Multi-Case Study of Six Diverse Summer Bridge Program Participants

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Summer and Cohort Programs for Minorities: Student Success

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.561.1 - 24.561.16



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Paper Authors


Walter C. Lee Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Walter Lee is a PhD candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where he also serves as a program assistant for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity. His research interests include student retention, diversity, motivation, and first-year experiences in engineering. Mr. Lee received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in Spring 2012 focusing on how co-curricular support is used to impact the experiences of undergraduate engineering students, specifically those from underrepresented populations. He received his M.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and his B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University.

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Christina Seimetz Wade Virginia Tech

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Christina Seimetz is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She also serves as program support staff for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity where she is involved with recruitment, outreach, and retention programs specifically targeted towards females interested in engineering. Ms. Seimetz earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

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Catherine T. Amelink Virginia Tech

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Dr. Catherine Amelink is Director of Graduate Programs and Assessment, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech.

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MIND       Examining the Transition To Engineering: A Multi-Case Study of Six Diverse Summer Bridge Program ParticipantsInterventions targeting first-year students are common efforts engaged in by engineering collegesto improve undergraduate retention. The first year is critical as students often find it difficult tomake the transition from being high school seniors to college freshmen. In an attempt to mitigatethis transition and motivate students as they begin their college careers, many colleges offersummer bridge programs. Summer bridge programs aim to provide incoming students withenriching experiences believed to facilitate the acquisition of the skills needed to be successfulfreshmen. However, students have varying experiences and can benefit differently even if theyparticipate in the same activities; we know little about how these experiences or benefits vary.Our research study contributes to understanding how students benefit from summer bridgeprograms by examining the experiences of six students with varying backgrounds. The purposeof this multicase study is to highlight individual student experiences and the impact the programhad on their academic motivation, and to discuss the lessons learned through a summer bridgeprogram as a student’s transition towards earning an engineering degree.Our research site is a voluntary program, where each student had to apply to participate. Theprogram lasted five weeks and provided students with a quasi-college experience. The statedpurpose of summer bridge program was: (1) to provide incoming students an opportunity tobecome familiar with the university community; (2) to provide academic enrichment in subjectshistorically difficult for first-year students; and (3) to provide incoming students withopportunities for personal and professional development. While the program initially targetedonly engineering students from underrepresented ethnic minority populations, it has sinceexpanded to include all engineering students as well as those who are accepted into theuniversity but not directly into engineering; this broad target population resulted in a diversegroup with regards to gender, race, academic preparation, and major.Data were collected from six diverse students using a pre-survey, post-survey, individualinterviews, and academic performance during the program. The research team developed theinstruments to focus on the stated program goals and constructs outlined in the MUSIC Model ofAcademic Motivation: eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring. A qualitativecase study was completed to understand each individual experience and each student’s academicmotivation at the conclusion of the program. In particular, we investigated the lessons learnedfrom participating in the intervention. While each student did report an improved understandingof how much effort is required to earn an engineering degree, lessons pertinent to the personaltransitions of each student were also revealed. These findings will assist engineering collegeswith helping students through the college transition. This study is a step towards betterunderstanding the impact of summer bridge programs in engineering education.

Lee, W. C., & Wade, C. S., & Amelink, C. T. (2014, June), Examining the Transition to Engineering: A Multi-Case Study of Six Diverse Summer Bridge Program Participants Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20452

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