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Fast Track To Achievement Ii: Increasing Academic Performance And Retention Of Engineering Freshmen By Promoting Achievement Behaviors

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Hunting for MINDs

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.558.1 - 7.558.18



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Paper Authors

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Kisha Johnson

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Grace Mack

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John Wheatland

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

Main Menu Session 2002-2103

Fast Track to Achievement II: Increasing Academic Performance and Retention of Engineering Freshmen by Promoting Achievement Behaviors

Grace E. Mack, John A. Wheatland, and Kisha Johnson Morgan State University


In making the transition from high school to college, engineering freshmen can benefit from guidance by upperclassmen on how to meet the challenges of engineering and how to negotiate the college environment. Upperclassmen, particularly those with a proven track record of academic achievement and leadership, are credible sources and powerful role models for engineering freshmen. This assumption formed the basis for development of a freshman retention program, "Fast Track to Achievement." The primary strategy of Fast Track is to engage teams of upperclassmen in dialogue with groups of freshmen in a series of workshops focusing on three themes -"Mastering Mathematics," "Making It in Engineering," and "Planning to Graduate." The goal of the program is to expose the greatest number of freshmen to successful engineering undergraduates who can speak from experience on how to adjust to the rigors of the engineering curriculum, earn the best grades, and make the freshman year a good foundation for achievement in engineering. This paper describes the training, implementation, and evaluation of the Fast Track to Achievement Programs and its effect on freshman academic performance and retention.


Nearly twenty-five years ago, Tinto 8 proposed a conceptual model of college student attrition. Essentially, Tinto theorized that dropout behavior is a longitudinal process based on the quality of the interaction between the student and the institution’s academic and social systems. When precollege background characteristics and experiences are held constant, persistence in college is a result of the student’s level of academic and social integration in the institution. Academic integration is related to the student’s goal commitment (to graduate) and the quality of social integration is related to the student’s commitment to the institution. The greater the academic and social integration, the greater the student’s institutional and goal commitment and the greater the probability the student will persist. Studies conducted by Pascarella and Chapman3, Pascarella and Terenzini5, and Terenzini and Pascarella7 to test the validity of Tinto’s model generally support the relationship between social integration and persistence, particularly at four-year residential institutions and for women. These and other studies have concluded that Tinto’s model has “reasonable predictive power in explaining variance in freshman year persistence/voluntary withdrawal”4

Social integration is the result of “informal peer group associations, semi-formal extra-curricular activities and interaction with faculty and administrative personnel of the college” 8. Tinto Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Johnson, K., & Mack, G., & Wheatland, J. (2002, June), Fast Track To Achievement Ii: Increasing Academic Performance And Retention Of Engineering Freshmen By Promoting Achievement Behaviors Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10714

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