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HumanConnect: Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Howard L. Greene Ohio State University

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Howard L. Greene directs K-12 Education Outreach for the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, bringing university research and teaching intersections to the K-12 community, especially those underserved and/or underrepresented. Prior to Ohio State, Dr. Greene worked for 12 years in medical device development and later in STEM education and outreach at Battelle in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to Battelle, Dr. Greene was a professor of Electronics Engineering Technology at DeVry University in Columbus. Dr. Greene received the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from The Ohio State University in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, respectively.

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David L. Tomasko The Ohio State University

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David Tomasko is a Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at The Ohio State University. He also serves as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Services for the College of Engineering

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Rachel Tuttle The Ohio State University

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Rachel serves as the Humanitarian Engineering Scholars Program Manager and an Engineering Undeclared Academic Advisor at The Ohio State University. Prior to working at Ohio State, Rachel worked in Residence Life at both Case Western Reserve University and the University of Virginia. Rachel received her Masters Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina and her Bachelors Degree in Biology from Bowling Green State University.

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Jan Upton Institutional Research Consultants, Ltd.

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Jan Upton is the Founder and President of Institutional Research Consultants, Ltd., a program evaluation research firm located in Columbus, Ohio that provides services primarily to grant-funded projects in the following areas: STEM, reading, at-risk students, and teacher professional development. Dr. Upton completed Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where her area of specialization was social stratification (race, class, and gender studies).

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HumanConnect: Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

The Ohio State University (OSU) offers 17 living-learning “Scholars Programs” organized around diverse areas of interest. Students apply as a part of their university application and are selected based on academic qualifications and demonstrated interest in the particular theme. They commit to participate in scholars activities for their first two years on campus. Scholars students live together, study together and take advantage of a host of other thematic supports designed to improve academic success and retention. This S-STEM project “HumanConnect” is aligned with the Humanitarian Engineering Scholars (HES) program in the College of Engineering and supports scholarships of up to 4 full years for academically talented students who demonstrate financial need, enabling them to enter the STEM workforce or graduate school following STEM degree completion. Our two main goals are to 1) Positively impact the retention and graduation of Engineering students with financial need and 2) Improve academic performance relative to a control group (selected from another scholars’ community, Green Engineering Scholars or GES).

In the first year of the award (2013-14), scholarships were granted to a first cohort of 15 students (11 first year and 4 second year). In the second year of the award (2014-15), a second cohort of 15 freshmen HES students was awarded scholarships before these students accepted admission to OSU, relying on high school GPA and standardized test scores to determine academic qualification and significant unmet financial need based upon the FAFSA and in light of other sources of aid.

Results show that overall retention in engineering and at OSU was high for both recipient and control groups (90% for HES and 91% for GES). By comparison, overall first year retention in the College of Engineering was 81% for 2013-14. HES Cohort 1 students were more likely (80%) to meet the 3.0 GPA requirement than the corresponding GES group (67%). Higher average GPA for both HES cohorts (3.16) versus GES cohorts (3.01), suggest that the scholarship may have pushed recipients to achieve as part of maintaining eligibility. The scholarship appeared to reduce participants’ need for outside employment. None of the HES Cohort 2 students reported holding a job. Of the Cohort 1 students who responded to both the Year 1 and Year 2 surveys, 63% reduced the number of hours they worked in Year 2. Overall, 69% of HES respondents indicated that the scholarship had enabled them to reduce the number of hours they worked each week while only 33% of GES students said this about other scholarships they received.

Key outcomes include HES students (combined Cohorts 1 & 2) attributing positive impacts on their academic performance to the scholarship (94%) and to aspects of the HES program overall—including being in a living-learning community and a first-year engineering cohort (100%).

HES Cohort 2 respondents said that receiving the scholarship was a key factor in their decision to attend OSU and participate in Humanitarian Engineering (83%).

Finally, HES students reported experiencing lower stress due to financial issues. HES students also reported that the scholarship allowed them to pursue research or service learning opportunities (75% for HES vs 0% for control, p less than 0.05) and devote more time to explore graduate study (55% for HES vs 0% for control, p less than 0.10).

In summary, the HumanConnect Program appears to be meeting its programmatic goals of retention and improved academic performance, while qualitatively lowering the financial stress of participants.

Greene, H. L., & Tomasko, D. L., & Tuttle, R., & Upton, J. (2016, June), HumanConnect: Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25499

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