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Lessons Learned in Establishing STEM Student Cohorts at a Border University and the Effect on Student Retention and 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

Summer and Cohort Programs for Minorities: Student Success

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.862.1 - 24.862.11



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Paper Authors


Mikhail M. Bouniaev University of Texas, Brownsville

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Dr. Mikhail Bouniaev, Dean of the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology, and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Moscow Dr. Mikhail Bouniaev, Dean of the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology, and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Moscow Institute of Electrical Engineering and a Doctor of Science in Pedagogy degree from Moscow State Pedagogical University. His research interests include functional analysis, topology, applied mathematics, nanosciences, psychology of mathematics education, using technology in teaching mathematics, training mathematics teachers and curriculum development. In each of these areas he has publications including 6 books and 60 peer reviewed papers. Though his scholarly work is related mostly to theoretical and applied mathematics as well psychology of mathematics education, he has extensive experience working with and supervising engineering and computer science programs, including successful ABET accreditations for both engineering and CS programs. Before joining UTB/TSC, he served as dean of the College of Computing, Integrated Engineering, and Technology and as Department Chair of Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Southern Utah University. He also served for ten years as dean of the College of Mathematics at Moscow State Pedagogical University. Dr. Bouniaev has received numerous professional recognitions and awards.

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Immanuel Adaikalaraj Edinbarough University of Texas, Brownsville

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Immanuel A. Edinbarough received his B.Sc. (Applied Sciences) degree from PSG College of Technology, University of Madras, India, his B.E.. (M.E.) degree from the Institution of Engineers, India, M.E. (Production Engineering) degree from PSG College of Technology, Bharathiar Univesrity, India and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Bharathiar University, India. He is currently a professor and Director of Engineering Technology at The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). Prior to joining the faculty at UTB he was a visiting professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY. Also, an Associate Professor of Production Engineering Technology at PSG College of Technology Bharathiar University, India, where he served as the Director of Computer Vision Laboratory and National Cadet Corps – Engineering Division Director. With over 26 years of teaching and research experience in manufacturing/mechanical engineering and engineering technology, he currently teaches in the areas of CAD/CAM/CIM, Robotics & Automation, Product and Process Design, Materials and Manufacturing processes, Machine Design, Renewable Energy and Micro Manufacturing. His current research interests include Robotics, CIM, Sustainable Manufacturing, Micro Machining and Engineering & Technology Education. He has published several papers, in these areas, in various national & international conferences and journals. He has worked in heavy and light manufacturing industries manufacturing pumps, motors, and CNC machine tools in the areas of system design, production planning and control and manufacturing. Edinbarough also served in paramilitary forces and in the Air Force. He is a Life Member of the ISTE, a senior life member of the IE (India), a member of the ASEE & SME, and a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in the state of Texas.

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Bill W. Elliott The University of Texas at Brownsville

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Bill Elliott holds a BS degree from The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) and MPA from Texas State University. He has four decades of administrative management experience on the university campus and in health care education. Prior positions include Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at UMHB in Belton, TX; Director of Education for the Valley Baptist Health System, Harlingen, TX and currently he is the Coordinator for Special Projects with the Office of the Dean, College of Science, Mathematics and Technology at the University of Texas at Brownsville. He has extensive experience in developing academic support programs for post-secondary students.

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LESSONS LEARNED IN ESTABLISHING STEM STUDENT COHORTS AT A BORDER UNIVERSITY AND THE EFFECT ON STUDENT RETENTION AND SUCCESSThe University of _______(UXX), is a Hispanic Serving Institution (91% Hispanic, 96% U.S.citizens) located at the southern tip of the state along the Mexico border in a region which has some of thelowest average household incomes in the nation. The majority of UXX students (73%) are the firstgeneration of their family to seek a bachelor degree.Underrepresented minority students pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)related degrees at much lower rates compared to other segments of the population. The problemof underrepresentation is exacerbated when students drop out of their college programs due toinadequate mathematics and science preparation, need to work in support of family, and a lack ofmentors and peer support at home. To address these problems, including the high schoolpreparation and college curriculum gaps, the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology(CSMT) implemented a cohort program for STEM majors. The primary goal of the program is toincrease the number of Hispanic and low income students who successfully attain a STEMbachelor’s degree including engineering and engineering technology.The initial cohort grouped 80 first year students majoring in chemistry, biology, mathematics andengineering. The cohort process includes building productive academic relationships amongstudents and developing an affinity toward the programs, college and university. The initialdesign was that cohort students in each participating program follow a common class scheduleand progress through a defined program together for the entire period of their education. Theunique scheduling, along with small class sizes, promotes an interactive learning environmentthat facilitates networking opportunities, strengthens student relationships, and enhances studentlearning experience.This program has attractive benefits to students including successful completion of science andmath courses. Goals of the STEM Cohort program are:  Course sequencing to foster a peer support network and team building,  Mentoring of new STEM majors,  Programed tutoring,  Program-specific academic support services,  Community building and collaborating opportunities,  Improved retention.This paper will present: a. Challenges and obstacles encountered during planning and implementation, b. Adjustments and real solutions adopted to move the project forward, c. An overall evaluation of the first two years of the program, d. Retention problems encountered with the student groups. Though some of the challenges are generic in nature, others are specifically associated with the socioeconomic environment of the region from which UXX draws much of its student body. Potentially all of our findings are applicable to other minority serving institutions. Discussions are provided on the lessons learned and the student feedback through ongoing evaluation that caused changes in the subsequent offerings of the program. The paper will 1 include data on cohort student academic progress and results of a survey conducted to assess the efficacy of the cohort program.Selected list of References: 1. James D. Nelson, Bernd Schröder, “Establishing an Integrated Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Curriculum: Lessons Learned,” American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition,2001. 2. Connie Kubo Della-Piana, Pablo Arenaz, Walter Fisher and Benjamin C. Flores, “CircLES: A Comprehensive First-Year Program for Entering Engineering and Science Students,” American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, 2001. 3. Mary R. Anderson-Rowland, Dana C. Newell, “ Lessons learned in a successful underrepresented minority retention program,” American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, 2005. 4. Bevlee Watford, Carrie Slater, Jean Kampe, Whitney Edmister, “Lessons learned: Implementing large-scale peer mentoring program,” American Society for Engineering Education, 2006. 5. Kelly Crittenden, James Nelson, Galen Turner, “Increasing student success in Engineering and Science through a freshman enrichment program,” American Society of Engineering Education, 2008. 6. Arturo Fuentes, Stephen Crown, Robert Freeman, Horacio Vasquez, Cristina Villalobos, Miguel Gonzalez, Olga Ramirez,”Increasing student access, retention, and graduation through an integrated STEM pathways support initiative for the Rio South Texas Region,” American Society for Engineering Education, 2009. 7. Ennis, T. et al. “GoldShirt Transitional Program: Creating Engineering Capacity and Expanding Diversity Through a Performance –Enhancing Year,” ASEE Conference Proceedings, 2010. 8. Bart M Johnson et al. “ITASCA CC Engineering Block Scheduling Model,”American Society of Engineering Education, 2011. 9. Dr. RobertW. Whalin,” Solving the Engineering pipeline challenge: Revised, Validated, and Cost-Optimized,” American Society for Engineering Education, 2012. 10. Anant R. Kukreti, Kristen Strominger, Urmila Ghia, “Enhancing Retention and Achievement of Undergraduate Engineering Students,” 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2013. 2

Bouniaev, M. M., & Edinbarough, I. A., & Elliott, B. W. (2014, June), Lessons Learned in Establishing STEM Student Cohorts at a Border University and the Effect on Student Retention and Success Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20753

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015