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Programs to Enhance Retention and Success of Students Enrolled in Two-year College Engineering Programs

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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

California on the Move: A Robust Array of Student Success Initiatives

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1013.1 - 24.1013.11



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Paper Authors


Courtney Sara Mathews Hadsell Cañada College

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I graduated from The University of North Carolina with a PhD in Physics and an interest in STEM education. I am passionate about finding ways to help students learn and retain difficult concepts and help give them the confidence to pursue and tackle challenging problems.

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Christine Burwell-Woo Cañada College

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Chris Burwell-Woo joined The STEM Center at Cañada College in 2011 after 30 years in industry primarily focused in the area of program and client service management. She currently serves as the Program Coordinator for Math Jam a one-week intensive Math placement/course preparation program and the STEM Institute a summer STEM exploration program for high school students; in addition to her activities as a Retention Specialist in The STEM Center at Cañada College. Prior to her role with Math Jam and the STEM Institute, Chris worked on a Veterans Employment Assistance Program grant connecting student veteran engineering majors with campus resources and providing student support for the campus MESA (Math, Science, Engineering Achievement) Program.

In addition to her work at Cañada College, Chris actively supports local education having acted as a board member for the Healthy Cities Tutoring Program, San Carlos Education Foundation, Sequoia High School Education Foundation, and the Sequoia High School AVID Advisory Committee.

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Amelito G Enriquez Canada College Orcid 16x16

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Amelito Enriquez is a professor of engineering and mathematics at Cañada College. He received his BS in Geodetic Engineering from the University of the Philippines, his MS in Geodetic Science from the Ohio State University, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include technology-enhanced instruction and increasing the representation of female, minority and other underrepresented groups in mathematics, science and engineering.

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Programs to Enhance Retention and Success of Students Enrolled in Two-year College Engineering ProgramsA majority of California community college students enter college with low levels of preparationfor college level work, especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). As aresult, community college students wishing to pursue careers in Engineering are often underprepared for the foundation courses required as pre-requisites to beginning engineering classes.Due to their low preparation many students withdraw from courses or even change majors beforecompleting transfer-level STEM courses. This paper describes the development andimplementation of two programs designed to improve retention and success in these critical pre-requisite courses. Programs include supplemental instruction to target pre-requisite physics andmath classes and Physics Jam, a pre-semester physics preparation program.Supplemental instruction (SI) is an academic assistance program that creates a safe environmentfor students to get their questions answered and receive feedback from peers who have beensuccessful in their course. SI leaders act as “prototype” students who model successful classroombehavior and study skills. Because SI is not designed to be a remedial approach it targets highrisk courses not high risk students. Therefore, for the first implementation of SI at “institution”(a two-year school in the San Francisco Bay area) targeted Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, CalculusI, and General Physics I to facilitate retention and success in pre-engineering major STEMcourses. All students in the course are encouraged to attend Supplemental Instruction sessionseach week.In addition to SI, students entering General Physics I were given the opportunity to participate in“Physics Jam,” a four-week physics preparation program that is offered during the summer priorto the fall semester. Physics Jam is modeled after Math Jam (a week-long intensive mathpreparation program on our campus), which showed improvement in student success andcreating a sense of community among program participants. The focus of Physics Jam is tounify the student’s math skills with introductory physics problems prior to the semester, therebyimproving their success in their upcoming course. Physics Jam students were given a pre-assessment and then allowed to proceed self-paced through prearranged video content andpractice problems with constant access to tutor support and an instructor.This paper will discuss the successes and obstacles that were met implementing these programsin a two-year college setting. We will highlight the unique set of challenges in implementingeven well-established programs such as Supplemental Instruction in a two-year college setting aswell as those encountered when transitioning a successful Math boot camp model to Physics.

Hadsell, C. S. M., & Burwell-Woo, C., & Enriquez, A. G. (2014, June), Programs to Enhance Retention and Success of Students Enrolled in Two-year College Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22946

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