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Implementation of an Engineering-Based Retention Center and its Impact on Student Success

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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

Student Success I: Interventions and Programs

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Jaclyn Marie Esqueda University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Jaclyn is a Special Programs Manager in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Student Success Programs department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She received her Master of Education degree in Counselor Education-Higher Education Student Services from Georgia Southern University. She is strongly committed to helping all students find a meaningful and life-changing educational experience in an inclusive campus environment.

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Christina Curras University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Dr. Curras earned her PhD in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of California at Davis. She has been a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville since 2000, and she currently is serving as the Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and as the Assistant Dean for Student Services for the College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science.

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This evidence-based practice paper in the Educational Research & Methods (ERM) Division focuses on the learning that occurs outside of the classroom and the ways in which these supplementary experiences impact the overall retention and academic success of undergraduate engineering students at a small, Midwestern, STEM-focused institution. Institutional strategies to support student success have been developed through a National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) grant.

The strategy highlighted in this research is the development and implementation of a STEM-focused retention center learning space. The paper will present the need for spaces of this nature, discuss the best practices for planning and development of a space, detail the implementation process, explain assessment methods, and highlight key initial outcomes.

The center supports success by offering a study location that is convenient to where students take classes; providing a comfortable, welcoming space for individual and group study; offering a location option for tutoring meetings; providing access to technology and resources; and acting as a connection point to assist students in locating and using other campus resources.

By intentionally developing and leveraging relationships with students, faculty, staff, and industry partners, the center can build capacity to provide expanded STEM-focused services to student users, ensuring a holistic approach to meeting their needs.

Preliminary results from the first two years of center operation have been obtained through analysis of user demographics, user survey responses, focus groups, and academic performance indicators.

Esqueda, J. M., & Curras, C. (2016, June), Implementation of an Engineering-Based Retention Center and its Impact on Student Success Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25579

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