June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
12.818.1 - 12.818.22
IDENTIFYING IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE HIGH SCHOOL – COLLEGE BRIDGE FOR ENGINEERING STUDENTS: A FOCUS GROUP APPROACH ABSTRACT
The educational pre-college background of entering freshmen has been defined as a decisive predictor of college success in STEM disciplines. It is then important to develop an understanding of the factors that affect the level of preparation of students entering engineering. We present the results of a series of focus groups undertook to elicit high school deficiencies and other problems faced by engineering students upon arrival to college in the opinion of current industrial engineering students at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. We aim to define areas of opportunity to develop tools and workshops to train high school STEM teachers for a future phase of this project. Differences among different types of high school characteristics in the island are being controlled, such as main language of instruction, whether the HS is private or public and their geographic location. The focus groups were conducted by undergraduate students that are part of an undergraduate research opportunities program in the IE department. Students exposed the mistakes and good practices of their high school teachers that resulted in knowledge gaps or helped them achieving success once in college. Partnerships among government and academia could be formed to take corrective action and improve HS preparation so that the college experience and subsequent retention into engineering fields is improved.
The importance of educating well-prepared engineers is undeniable because of its implications to our twenty first century global society. At the same time, the increasing loss of students who start studying engineering and then change to other major or drop out of college is high1,2, 7. In the search for possible reasons for this desertion researchers have found that HS preparation is essential for college success into engineering fields. It has been demonstrated that it plays an important role in student’s achievements during their college experience5. Even though other researches who have studied this topic2 have concluded that High School instruction isn’t enough to prepare engineering students to university’s level courses, we believe it is a crucial factor.
At the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, UPRM, attraction into engineering fields is not a problem, since applications from the best HS students in the island --both female and male-- have been steadily growing. The problem faced by most engineering departments is in fact the time that these supposedly brilliant students are taking to graduate. Normally a five year program of 175 credits, most students take an average of 5.5 years to complete the coursework, with ranges from 4.5 to 8 years. For this reason it is imperative to identify which of the factors that are affecting the academic life of those engineering students that prevent them to progress in their coursework, can be categorized as deficiencies of their HS educational preparation. It is also important to identify the academic difficulties faced during the early years of the college
Galarza, V., & Figueroa, M., & Lugo, C., & Rodriguez, R., & Rivera, F., & Medina-Borja, A. (2007, June), Identifying Improvement Opportunities In The High School–College Bridge For Engineering Students: A Focus Group Approach Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2215
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