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Intervention Strategy For Improving Success Rates In Calculus

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

FPD5 -- Placement & Early Success

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.826.1 - 11.826.7



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Paper Authors


Darryl Koch University of Michigan

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Darryl M. Koch is Coordinator of Academic Support Services in the Minority Engineering Program Office at The University of Michigan. He received his BS and MS degrees in Mathematics and Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. He is an active member in National Association of Minority Engineering Program Administrators (NAMEPA) and the American Society of Engineering Education. He can be reached at

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Gary D. Herrin University of Michigan

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Gary D. Herrin, Ph.D. is Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education of the College of Engineering and Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. He has authored over 150 papers in Industrial Engineering. His professional affiliations include ASEE and ASQ. He may be reached at

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Intervention Strategy for Improving Success Rates in Calculus I. Introduction

Certain introductory courses for engineering students act as “gateway” courses, meaning that students will have difficulty progressing successfully through the engineering program without solid performance in these foundation courses. Designing interventions that help students pass these “gateway” courses successfully can be an important strategy for improving overall student retention rates. In general, we believe that student retention efforts are particularly important during the first year since students are encountering a variety of transition issues, including the rigorous academic demands. We also believe that first-year retention initiatives which identify specific challenges for students early on in the term and provide quick and responsive intervention measures provide the greatest impact. Finally, retention initiatives are likely to be most effective when they involve both academic departments and student support services offices working collaboratively.

In this paper, we will describe an intervention measure that we developed to improve student success rates in Calculus I for engineering students at the University of Michigan. This particular initiative involves collaboration among an academic department and several student support services offices and is targeted towards entering first-year students. We will also present the preliminary data that suggests the intervention has a positive impact.

II. Background

At the University of Michigan, students are admitted to the College of Engineering either directly as entering first-year students or through the transfer process (internally from another college on campus, or externally from another institution). Approximately 80- 85% of the admitted students each year are admitted as entering freshmen.

Students who are admitted to the College of Engineering as new freshmen are required to pass a set of core pre-engineering courses in mathematics and science during their first several terms before selecting a specific engineering department as their major. During the time before an engineering student has selected a particular department, academic advising matters for the student are conducted by the Engineering Advising Center. After declaring a particular department as a major, the student’s advising issues are then handled by the respective departmental advising team.

Various student support services offices in the College of Engineering such as the Engineering Advising Center, the Engineering Learning Resource Center, and others are fully invested in helping students succeed academically in their first several terms, so that the student is eligible for declaring a major. As such, it is common for these offices to collaborate on student retention initiatives, particularly on initiatives that target first-year students. In addition, it is known that the initial pre-engineering core mathematics and science courses form an essential foundation for the later departmental engineering

Koch, D., & Herrin, G. D. (2006, June), Intervention Strategy For Improving Success Rates In Calculus Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--440

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