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Fast Track To Achievement: Promoting Achievement Behaviors In Engineering Freshmen

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.297.1 - 5.297.10

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Paper Authors

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Kisha L. Johnson

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John Albert Wheatland

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Grace E. Mack

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

Session 1453

Fast Track to Achievement: Promoting Achievement Behaviors In Engineering Freshmen

Grace E. Mack, John A. Wheatland, Kisha L. 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 can focus freshmen on behaviors and attitudes that promote achievement and motivate freshmen toward success in engineering; lead by example to encourage freshmen to stay linked to the engineering community; and serve as successful role models for some freshmen who may lack confidence and who may perceive engineering as difficult and unattainable. Freshmen can relate better to upperclassmen who are their peers and who more recently have experienced what it takes to “make it in engineering.” Upperclassmen, particularly those with a proven track record of academic achievement and leadership, are more credible sources and powerful role models for engineering freshmen. This assumption formed the basis for development of a pilot freshman retention program, “Fast Track to Achievement.” The primary strategy of this program 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.


Nearly 25 years ago, Tinto (1975) 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 Chapman (1983), Pascarella and Terenzini (1980), and Terenzini and Pascarella (1977) designed 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

Johnson, K. L., & Wheatland, J. A., & Mack, G. E. (2000, June), Fast Track To Achievement: Promoting Achievement Behaviors In Engineering Freshmen Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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