June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.1148.1 - 22.1148.16
The Successes and Challenges of Supplemental Instruction as a Component of an NSF STEP Project to Engage Early Engineering StudentsIn recent years there has been a noticeable decline in the number of STEM students nationwide.Specifically, there is a high loss rate of early engineering students in the first half of their degreeprograms. The early “leavers” typically fall into two categories (i) those that are facingacademic probation and (ii) those that perceive the education environment of early engineeringas hostile and not engaging (Bernold, Spurlin et.al., 2007; Seymour, 2002; Seymour and Hewitt,1997). Undergraduate engineering enrollment has declined substantially over the last decade atthe College of Engineering at a large Midwestern university. The downturn can be attributedpartly to the rapid decline of the American automobile and manufacturing industry, a traditionalmainstay for the local economy.In 2008, a five-year NSF STEP grant (STEM Talent Expansion Program) was awarded tosupport a partnership between the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Science at the university,and a nearby community college. The project is titled Engaging Early Engineering Students(EEES). A primary goal of EEES is to increase retention at the College of Engineering and inturn increase the number of degree recipients. The EEES project functions through thesynergistic operation of four components designed to maximize student engagement with boththe college and the learning process. The components are (i) Connector faculty; (ii)Supplemental Instruction; (iii) Course cross linkages; and (iv) Early intervention.The primary objective of this paper is to describe the successes and challenges encounteredduring the first two and a half years of the Supplemental Instruction segment of the EEESproject. Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an internationally recognized peer-tutoring program thatintegrates course content with active student learning in the form of peer facilitated studysessions. This approach to peer to peer learning has shown that participating students makegreater gains than those achieved by classmates competing with each other or studying alone(Bok, 2006). Additionally, group learning has demonstrated benefits essential to creating a morewelcoming educational environment, including helping to integrate students into academic life,teaching effective collaboration methods, and reducing prejudice (Bok).This paper will include (i) a description of the implementation process of SI at the College ofEngineering; (ii) the roles of the various partners in the SI program; (iii) early signs of successand the evaluation methods used to measure them; and (iv) adjustments made to maximizeprogram resources, including the creation of combined subject sessions to increase attendanceand demonstrate the interconnectedness of subject material. Quantitative and qualitative methodswere used to acquire data on the impact of SI, including the students who attend the studysessions, as well as the peer leaders who facilitate them. In addition, the paper will highlight theSI program in relation to student development theory in the context of engineering education.
McDonough, C. A., & Briedis, D., & Buch, N., & DeGraaf, R. S., & Sticklen, J., & Stoner, S. J., & Urban-Lurain, M., & Vergara, C. E., & Wolff, T. F. (2011, June), Peer-led Supplemental Instruction in an NSF STEP Project: The EEES Experience Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18711
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