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Helping Transfer Students Succeed: Establishing Pathways to Include Transfer Students in a First Year Engineering Program

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2019 FYEE Conference


Penn State University , Pennsylvania

Publication Date

July 28, 2019

Start Date

July 28, 2019

End Date

July 30, 2019

Conference Session

M1C: WIP - Readiness and Professional Development

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference - Paper Submission

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Paper Authors


Janet K. Lumpp University of Kentucky

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Dr. Janet Lumpp is a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Kentucky and Director of the First-Year Engineering Program in the UK College of Engineering.

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Whitney C Blackburn-Lynch

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Jennifer Lovely University of Kentucky

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Laura Marie Letellier P.E.

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Julie Gordon Whitney

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Kimberly W. Anderson University of Kentucky


Susan Herrick University of Kentucky College of Engineering

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Susan Herrick is Director of Student Success for the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky. She is a seasoned academic advisor and administrator with extensive experience in major exploration.

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This Work-In-Progress Paper will describe the effort being made by a large public institution to better ensure the success of the students who are transferring into the College of Engineering (COE). Transfer students in the COE enter from across the state or across campus with diverse work, life and military backgrounds. This diversity of experiences brings real world talent into the classroom, but the academic success of our transfer students was limited. The COE has a transfer cohort of 150 - 200 students/year. From 2011-2017, we lost an average of 31% of those in their first year. Less than 60% of those students were deemed successful in their first 2 years. This resulted in the development a transfer student course within the First-Year-Engineering program (FYE), to address how we might aid the success of our transfer students.

In Fall 2016, the COE established their first-year engineering program as a two semester sequence. During the first FYE semester, the transfer students and freshman were given essentially the same classes. This was not well-received, and we did not see any increase in retention or success with the transfer students. It was clear that the common first-year experience was geared more toward students coming out of high school and that something different would be needed to attract and retain transfer students. These differences were difficult to define and have required more substantial iterations from semester to semester to develop the current one semester transfer student course.

The first iteration of the course material involved removing the more exploratory parts of the content and including more career readiness topics, as most transfer students have already identified a discipline within the COE, and they have work experience making them more ready for internships and co-op opportunities. We continued to have the transfer students complete the second semester design projects teamed with freshman. The two semester sequence was not popular among the transfer students who prefer to move more quickly into the courses in their majors. Subsequently, the pre-requisites were adjusted to allow transfer students to complete the FYE courses in one semester and then two of the courses were merged into a three-credit course to pair the transferrable skills content with the team design projects for transfer students only. The FYE curriculum now addresses the needs of transfer students to have relevant classroom experiences, become familiar with the resources available in the university environment and build a cohort within the COE. These changes have resulted in our first semester retention increasing significantly. After the first year of this modified transfer student course, only 15% of the transfer students earned below a 2.0 in their first year.

Lumpp, J. K., & Blackburn-Lynch, W. C., & Lovely, J., & Letellier, L. M., & Whitney, J. G., & Anderson, K. W., & Herrick, S. (2019, July), Helping Transfer Students Succeed: Establishing Pathways to Include Transfer Students in a First Year Engineering Program Paper presented at 2019 FYEE Conference , Penn State University , Pennsylvania.

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