June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.739.1 - 13.739.8
Increasing Student Success in Engineering and Science through a Freshman Enrichment Program Abstract Our College of Engineering and Science (COES) has implemented a Freshman Enrichment Program (FrEP) to help meet our overall goal of increasing the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates prepared to successfully enter the workforce. Approximately half of the students who enroll in the COES are prepared to begin either our Integrated Engineering Curriculum or Integrated Science Curriculum. The remaining students must complete one or more preliminary mathematics courses prior to enrolling in Calculus. As a consequence, these students must delay beginning several critically important classes which often leads to a full year delay in graduation. Understandably, many students become discouraged. A weak mathematics background, frequently coupled with poor study and time management skills, causes many students to fall further behind, ultimately resulting in withdrawal from the university or a change to a non-STEM degree program. Our overall goal is an annual increase in STEM graduation rates from 220 students per year to a sustainable 300 students per year.
As part of the FrEP, students enroll in a five-week program during the summer before their freshman year. This program consists of a three-credit-hour college algebra course, enrichment topics, and an optional three-credit-hour general education course. Enrichment topics for the summer program include study skills, time management, career decision making and acclimation to the University. In addition, the students participate in many community-building activities, both structured and unstructured. The summer program, as a whole, establishes consistent expectations of the intensity of college life and creates an immediate place of fit when the students return in the fall. The FrEP project, supported by NSF STEP and S-STEM grants, continues to provide scholarships for these FrEP students through their freshman year. Our Integrated Curricula are structured such that students register for a block of core classes, and the S-STEM student cohort comprises one of these blocks. Throughout the academic year, student mentors are assigned to this cohort to conduct Supplemental Instruction sessions each week.
At present, 85% of this initial FrEP cohort has been retained in a STEM discipline. Data from the previous three years show an average freshman to sophomore STEM retention rate for a similar cohort of 59%. These students also have displayed more confidence, positive attitudes, respect, and a greater understanding of the demands of college life.
Introduction Louisiana Tech University’s STEM Talent Expansion Program (LaTechSTEP) has two major components that will yield increased numbers of graduates in STEM disciplines. One component focuses on recruitment of new students, while the second component increases retention. The Freshman Enrichment Program (FrEP) described in this paper focuses on recruiting and retaining students who have demonstrated academic potential but likely would not be successful in a STEM degree program without significant student development support.
According to the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2004, enrollment in undergraduate engineering and science programs decreased sharply during the 1980s,
Boudreaux, A., & Crittenden, K., & Nelson, J., & Turner, G. (2008, June), Increasing Student Success In Engineering And Science Through A Freshman Enrichment Program Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3322
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