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Project Care: The Effect Of Enrichment Of Academic Impact Skills On Academic Performance Improvement (Api) For Stem Careers

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

K-12 Engineering and Pre-College Outreach Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1198.1 - 12.1198.25



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Paper Authors

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Sylvanus Wosu University of Pittsburgh

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

ASEE Conference Paper

Project CARE: The Effect of Enrichment of Academic Performance Improvement (API) Skills on Performance in Math and Science

Sylvanus N. Wosu and Mike Lovell University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering Pittsburgh, PA 15261


Critical and Analytical Reasoning Enrichment (CARE) program under the Pitt Engineering Access Program (PECAP) identified analytical skill deficiency and motivation for mathematics and science courses at the pre-college level as major causes of the poor preparation and low enrollment of students from the under-represented groups into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Project CARE strategy of the solution of the identified problem is based on four fundamental premises: (1) enrichment of the Academic Performance Improvement (API) skills - critical thinking, analytical reasoning, quantitative literacy, and problem solving skills will minimize the barriers that hinder students’ performance and attraction to STEM careers, (2) use of collaborative learning ( such as learning-by-design using engineering projects, hands-on-science and engineering, and technology) contribute to students’ motivation and interest in STEM careers, (3) enrichment of API skills to prepare students for science and engineering should begin earlier, during the middle and high school grades, and (4) support services for these students must also continue through college until STEM degree completion. The project defines Academic Performance Improvement (API) skills index as the difference between the pre and post tests results. The three-year pilot program overwhelmingly indicates that CARE was 65% effective in preparing high school students for college level math and science instructions, as well as enriching their Academic Improvement skills and ability to excel in their senior year of high school. CARE contributed to 86% educational growth and 35% academic performance improvement among those students who scored lowest on the pre-test compared to 25% improvement among those that scored highest in the pre-test. Project CARE resulted in a systemic change in the way students are given access to an engineering career. The lessons learned in the course of the three program years are also discussed in details.


The face of American society continues to change as we experience national demographic shifts in our ethnic populations. The Department of Labor statistics reflect that African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, American- Indians, and other minorities account for 59 percent of new workers between 1998 and 2008 [1]. In addition, 60 percent of women 16 years of age and over already make up 47 percent of America’s 140 million labor force. In response to the demographic changes in population, over 75 percent of America’s biggest and best corporations nationwide have implemented diversity programs to increase the minority talent pool to more adequately reflect today’s population realities. Minority enrollment in engineering peaked in 1992-93 at 15,181and declined by 8.5 % in 1997-98 [2]. Fifty percent of all minorities engineering enrollment are in just 39 institutions (11 % of engineering schools in the nation), and only 34% of the institutions contribute to the pool of BSE degree minority recipients. Of the 25 engineering schools that are top ranked by US News and world report, only 5% exceed the national average of minority freshman enrollment, and only 7% exceed the national minority graduation [2]. Many universities, federal and state agencies across the nation are responding to the global need for diversity because it is an effective way to serve an increasing heterogeneous society and is, therefore, essential in preparing a 21st century engineer for effective communication and innovations of cross cultural divides.

The need to channel under-represented minority students into the sciences continues to be a major national priority. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in America is not yet achieving satisfactory results with traditionally under-represented minority students. National figures show that fewer and fewer African- Americans are receiving Ph.D.'s in the sciences. The high attrition rate of African Americans from the STEM pipeline has been identified as a greater barrier to increased representation than their attraction to non-quantitative fields. Critical thinking skills and self-directed inquiry are two areas, that if enhanced at the entry level of science and engineering education, could possibly increase motivation for STEM careers for minority students when other barriers are addressed [3-8]. The most common of these barriers were identified by others [9-12] as: (1) deficiencies


Wosu, S. (2007, June), Project Care: The Effect Of Enrichment Of Academic Impact Skills On Academic Performance Improvement (Api) For Stem Careers Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2587

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