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Just-in-Time Support: An Evidence-Based Academic-Student Affairs Partnership to Enable Engineering Student Success

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Persistence and Retention

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1049.1 - 26.1049.17



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Paper Authors


Edward J. Berger Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Edward Berger is currently an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, having joined Purdue in August 2014. Prior to that, he was the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Virginia, where this initiative took place.

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Lisa Lampe University of Virginia

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Lisa Lampe is the Director of Undergraduate Success in the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science, joining UVa in January 2014. Prior to that, she has served in many roles that bridge student affairs and academic affairs including Student Services Specialist and Residence Dean at Stanford University, as well as Hall Director and Interim Area Coordinator for residential academic programs at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

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Julie Innes Caruccio University of Virginia

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Julie Caruccio serves as Associate Dean of Students at the University of Virginia. Her focus includes direct student support in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and facilitating public service across U.Va. Former roles at U.Va. include Assistant to the Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer, Special Assistant to the Honor Committee, and Director of the Jefferson Fellows Program. Prior to coming to U.Va., she served as Director of Orientation and New Student Programs at the State University of New York at Geneseo, and as an Assistant Complex Coordinator at the University of Vermont. She took her B.A. in history at U.Va. in 1994, her M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from UVM in 2000, and her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from U.Va. in 2013.

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Just-in-Time Support: An Academic-Student Affairs Partnership to Enable Engineering Student SuccessThe current generation of engineering students, the so-called “millennials”, enter college withvastly different experiences and expectations than students 15-20 years ago. The millennialgeneration, also known as Generation Y, has uncharitably been dubbed the “teacup generation”:they are superficially perfect, yet fragile, and they shatter when dropped. Raised and shelteredby helicopter parents, these students present themselves as a rather confusing mix of confidenceand convention, with close familial ties and a sometimes outsized expectation about what theycan achieve. As expectations on the college experience continue to rise, students believe theymust not only excel in their academics, but they must also have a great internship, a life-changing international experience, be the leader of a student organization, and so on. It is worthasking: in what ways do the common characterizations of millennials, along with theirexpectations about the college experience, impact the ways in which institutions provisionstudent support services? And what are the particular facets of their experience as anundergraduate engineering student that fuel their need for support services?This paper reports on an evidence-based practice initiative in a mid-sized engineering schoolwithin a large East Coast public, four-year university. The initiative is composed of a uniquecollaboration between academic personnel (mainly the Associate Dean for UndergraduatePrograms, but also including rank and file faculty) and a student affairs professional (SAP)holding a PhD in Higher Education. The SAP was embedded in the engineering school,physically collocated with the engineering undergraduate office, and served only engineeringstudents (as compared to SA generalists from the Dean of Students Office). The SAP engageswith the Associate Dean, engineering faculty, and other staff as appropriate to provide just-in-time support and crisis management for engineering students experiencing all manner academicand personal challenges. Some of these challenges were mild, yet provokes the teacup response,while other circumstances were genuinely tragic and presented significant challenges to students.In this paper, we report on student outcomes data from the nearly 300 students we served duringthe first year of this partnership.Our findings illustrate three key points. First, the engineering program places unique stresses onstudents that non-engineering students may not experience: the rigor, pace, rhythm, and generalexpectations of the curriculum and the co-curriculum are very significant for engineeringstudents. Moreover, the professional expectations of engineering students (that post-graduation,they will accept a job despite today’s sluggish economy) can be uniquely challenging. Second,the SAP’s physical location and cross-training in engineering-specific issues is crucial toprovisioning effective just-in-time support. We discuss these cross-training efforts and explorehow they impact the SAP’s ability to support students. Third, we describe how student affairsexpertise merges with faculty expertise to provide a comprehensive set of support services forthe student; we contrast this with typical arrangements in which the Dean of Students Office isan “other” for students, not related to their engineering community and often physically locatedwell away from the engineering part of campus. The results of this study illustrate the power andpotential of close academic-student affairs partnerships for supporting engineering students.

Berger, E. J., & Lampe, L., & Caruccio, J. I. (2015, June), Just-in-Time Support: An Evidence-Based Academic-Student Affairs Partnership to Enable Engineering Student Success Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24386

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