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Experience: An Examination of Learning Community Models on the Retention, Progression, and Academic Performance of Engineering Students at a Historically Black University

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Reginald Perry Florida A&M University/Florida State University

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Dr. Reginald J. Perry is currently a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the joint Florida A&M University-Florida State University (FAMU-FSU) College of Engineering. He received the B.S. (Co-op, Highest Honors), M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering all from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He served as chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 1999 to 2004, and associate dean for student affairs and curriculum at the college from 2004 to 2018. Dr. Perry’s research interests include semiconductor device modeling, embedded systems design, and engineering education. He is an electrical and computer engineering program evaluator for ABET, Inc, a senior member of the IEEE, and a member of ASEE.

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Charmane V. Caldwell Florida A&M University/Florida State University

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Dr. Charmane V. Caldwell is the Director of Student Access at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE). As Director, Charmane leads a comprehensive effort to increase the number of underrepresented undergraduate minorities and women in engineering. She has developed and managed several retention programs at the college: Engineering Concepts Institute (ECI) Summer Bridge; Engineering Living Learning Community (LLC), Educating Engineering Students Innovatively (EESI) and Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS). Dr. Caldwell also serves as the activity director for the Title III program Engineering Learning Community. Those collective programs have nearly doubled the first-year retention of underrepresented minorities at the college. Additionally, Dr. Caldwell serves as a teaching professor for the First-Year Engineering Lab (FYEL), which is part of the pre-engineering program.

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This paper examines the evolution of learning community (LC) models on the retention, progression and academic performance of engineering students at a historically black university. It is well known that learning communities have a positive effect on measures of student academic performance including retention and graduation rates. They have been shown to facilitate both the academic and social transition to college for first-generation students. Different frameworks of learning community models have been developed and various classification types of have been reported. These types include linked courses, learning clusters, freshman interest groups, student type, collaborative and coordinated studies programs which can be implemented in both non-residential and residential forms.

We examine four LC models which were implemented at a large historically black university between 2000 and 2018. These models evolved from a strongly coupled student type LC from 2000 to 2005, a freshman interest group (FIG) model from 2006 to 2011, and a loosely coupled student type LC from 2012 to 2015. These models were all non-residential. A residential FIG model was established in 2015 and is currently in use.

Additionally, a description of co-curricular program activities for each model is given. For example, in the current residential FIG, students live on the same floor in the newest university residential hall. They are registered for the same First-Year Engineering Laboratory and mathematics course and required to complete at least three hours of study per week. Students also attend weekly meetings, serve as engineering ambassadors, and complete community service projects.

Perry, R., & Caldwell, C. V. (2019, June), Experience: An Examination of Learning Community Models on the Retention, Progression, and Academic Performance of Engineering Students at a Historically Black University Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32790

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