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Improving Student Success and Retention Rates in Engineering: A Four-Year Longitudinal Assessment of the DYP Program

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Paying Attention to Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Steffen Peuker California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Dr. Steffen Peuker holds the James L. Bartlett, Jr. Assistant Professor position in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the California State University in San Luis Obispo. He is teaching courses, including laboratories, in the HVAC concentration and mechanical engineering including first-year courses. Dr. Peuker's educational research focuses on increasing student retention and success in engineering through implementation of a student success focused approach in introduction to engineering courses. In addition, his work in engineering education focuses on collaborative learning, student-industry cooperation, and developing innovative ways of merging engineering fundamentals and engineering in practice and research. He can be reached at

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This evidence-based practice paper presents a four year longitudinal study following the first cohort of first-year engineering students that was exposed to the “Design Your Process to become a “World Class” Engineering Student” (DYP) program at a four year institution.

Many students enter the engineering disciplines vastly unprepared to be successful in the rigors of engineering academia. Student retention numbers in engineering are low and some researchers attribute this low retention rate to a lack of academic skills needed to be academically successful. Typically, approaches to increase the nature and quality of engineering undergraduate education experience are focused on instructional and/or curricular changes. A recently developed innovative approach, called the DYP program, is different in that it focuses on what the students can do themselves to become self-regulated students and therefore are not only more likely to graduate with an engineering degree but also with a higher quality, e. g. with a higher GPA. The DYP program synthesizes what has been shown in the research literature to be effective and what should be done in first-year engineering seminars into a comprehensive, scalable and easy-to-implement approach. The main components of the approach are: 1. Coverage of student development topics in a first-year engineering course/lab/seminar to facilitate new students’ growth, instilling positive change, and developing strategies that will enhance student success. 2. Building upon the student development topics introduced in the course/lab/seminar, students are asked to design their own individual process to be successful in graduating with an engineering degree and write a reflective comprehensive report at the end of the course.

Previously published results reported a positive impact on first-year engineering student retention and performance after the first year of implementation of the DYP program. The results of the four-year longitudinal study confirm an increase in overall GPA and persistence for the first-year, but more remarkably it shows that the DYP program has a long term sustainable effect on student success. Results show statistically significant differences in GPA and persistence rates between the DYP cohort and control cohort for all years. The DYP cohort showed higher overall GPAs: +0.53 year one, +0.33 year two, +0.31 year three and +0.26 year four (p<0.001, except for year four where p<0.005, N=156 for DYP cohort at year one, N=193 for control cohort at year one). Comparing persistence rates between the cohorts also show a positive impact for the DYP student cohort. Students exposed to the DYP program showed higher persistence rates by 11% and 10% for the first and second year and by 16% for the third year compared to the control cohort. All increases in persistence are significant (p<0.05). Comparing how many students graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in any engineering major after four years at the institution reveals that the cohort exposed to the DYP program had 24 students graduated after four years compared to 10 in the comparison cohort.

Peuker, S. (2017, June), Improving Student Success and Retention Rates in Engineering: A Four-Year Longitudinal Assessment of the DYP Program Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28494

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