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The purpose of this Complete Research paper is to discuss a shift in the programmatic structure of a six-week engineering summer bridge program, designed to support the academic and social integration of incoming first-year students into the Pennsylvania State University community. Along with acclimating students to their chosen engineering or science-based discipline, the program includes structured social and cultural events that encourage students to build relationships with one another and relate in-class activities to out-of-class experiences. A primary goal of the program is to guide participants toward academic success, providing them with a head start in the challenging yet rewarding fields of engineering. Participants, traditionally underrepresented students in engineering, are engaged in math preparation, metacognitive skill development, group study sessions, near-peer mentorship, professional development workshops, and community building activities.
With a shift to an online format over the past two years, various components of the program structure were reimagined to accommodate the online learning environment and to emphasize interconnectivity between all community members, including participants, student leaders and program staff. Upper division student leaders, who completed the program the previous summer, were empowered to take on specific roles within the program and were engaged in development of program goals, activities, and reflections. They were provided autonomy over several key program components including academic preparation, community building, metacognition facilitation and robotics challenge implementation. The student leaders’ intentional engagement within various facets of the program led to an emphasis on and strengthening of interpersonal connections.
This work discusses program development, including goal setting, schedule development, community building, reflection generation and assessment. Results from qualitative and quantitative assessments around perceived mattering and sense of belonging will be discussed in the context of program component implementation. Challenges associated with engagement in an online learning environment and those associated with program structure will also be discussed in detail.
Griggs, L., & Cohan, C., & Vanderhoof, C., & Mattingly, A., & Peeples, T. (2022, August), Reimagining Summer Bridge: An Evolution in Best Practices to Support Incoming First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41608
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