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Improving Transfer Student Success

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

An Examination of Methods to Enhance Transfer Student Enrollment, Retenion, Persistence, and Outcomes

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.724.1 - 24.724.6



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Paper Authors


James Laier University of South Alabama

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Dr. James E. Laier, University of South Alabama
Dr. Laier received a B.S. in civil engineering from The Citadel in 1964 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He received an M.S. in civil engineering from the West Virginia University in 1965, and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Florida in 1973. In 1975 Dr. Laier founded Southern Earth Sciences, Inc. (SESI), geotechnical engineering and materials testing company in Mobile, AL. In 2008, SESI was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. After 32 years, Dr. Laier retired from SESI to serve as the Associate Dean of Engineering at the University of South Alabama. Dr. Laier is a fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers and has been named Mobile Area Engineering of the Year. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in 10 southeastern states.

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Sally J. Steadman University of South Alabama

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Dr. Steadman received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1969, an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Denver in 1973, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1994. She served on the UW faculty from 1984 - 2003, where she made use of her interest in engineering computer applications. She is a part-time instructor at the University of South Alabama where she is also a faculty advisor for Tau Beta Pi and for Mortar Board Senior Honor Society. Dr. Steadman is a past national president of Mortar Board.

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Addressing Transfer Student TransitionMany students do not effectively make the transfer from a two-year college to an engineeringcurriculum at a four-year institution. A comprehensive program has been developed to addressissues associated with the transfer process. This student success initiative, XXX-LINK, is anNSF funded program that stimulates enrollment, enhances retention in engineering programs atthe university, and increases the technical workforce. Important lessons have been learnedduring the early stages of the program.The NSF funding provides 2/3 tuition scholarships. The amount of the scholarships is especiallysignificant for transfer students who often need to work to cover their tuition costs. The programalso includes a seminar for first time students and a mentoring program, to enhance the academicsuccess of transfer students.The XXX-LINK seminar emphasizes academic success skills (such as time management andstudy skills). The students explore engineering majors through problem-based applications,gaining essential experience with engineering problem solving. The seminar also focuses onsocial involvement and interpersonal skills. Students are introduced to career andresearch/internship opportunities and to job placement skills so they are well prepared to enterthe technical workforce.An important factor in student retention is the sense of community that a student develops, whichis enhanced through the seminar. Each XXX-LINK student is assigned a Peer Mentor and aFaculty Mentor. These triads meet regularly to assist in the student’s transition to andinvolvement in the university.The program has helped to identify issues facing transfer students. Surprisingly many of thesestudents experience the same transition difficulties as entering freshmen students. For manystudents, even high academic achievers, the community college experience does not adequatelyprepare them for the rigor and pace in the engineering curriculum. Some issues can be addressedby effective advising. Others are addressed by the seminar. Additionally, we are working witharea community colleges to address some issues.Results from three classes of XXX-LINK students indicate that the program has been successfulin recruiting and retaining transfer students. 85% of the initial class is graduating this year; 50%of this class have participated in either internships or undergraduate research, and 40% of thesestudents have been elected to Tau Beta Pi. These results attest to the individual success of thestudents as well as to the success of the program.

Laier, J., & Steadman, S. J. (2014, June), Improving Transfer Student Success Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20616

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