Asee peer logo

Research and Instructional Strategies for Engineering Retention

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session I

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Claudia J Rawn University of Tennessee, Knoxville

visit author page

Claudia Rawn is an Associate Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is also the Director of the Center for Materials Processing. Prior to joining the University of Tennessee full time she was a Senior Research Staff Member in the Materials Science and Technology Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a Joint Faculty Member in the University of Tennessee’s Materials Science and Engineering Department. She received her B.Sc. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Materials Engineering, her M.Sc. from George Mason University in Chemistry, and her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Materials Science and Engineering. Before starting her graduate students she worked in the Ceramics Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a Materials Research Engineer. After completing her Ph.D. she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Ceramics Department of the "Jozef Stefan" Institute, in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Dr. Rawn joined the Materials Science and Technology Division at ORNL in 1997 with the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Postdoctoral Fellowship program.

visit author page


Richard M. Bennett University of Tennessee, Knoxville

visit author page

Richard Bennett is the Director of the Engineering Fundamentals Division at the University of Tennessee.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Funded by the NSF STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) our program has focused on two specific undergraduate populations where retention was low: 1) freshmen who do not qualify for the freshman engineering fundamentals program due to ACT math scores less than 28 and 2) women honor students. The program interventions have concentrated on increasing the retention within both groups and the long-term goal is to increase the graduation rates for these at-risk students. Interventions have include: 1) engineering only sections of precalculus with visits from engineering faculty and/or students and a living learning community for freshmen with ACT math scores of 27 or below; 2) a summer preparatory academic/community camp for students with math ACT scores of 27 encouraging them to take and pass the math placement test, enabling immediate entry into calculus and the engineering fundamentals program; and 3) undergraduate research assistantships and mentoring initiatives for the women honors students.

In the fifth year of the program five of the six undergraduate research assistants recruited in the Fall of 2011 have graduated and the first group of math campers are either seniors or juniors depending on if they participated in co-op opportunities. By the Spring of 2016 a second set of undergraduate research assistants and some of the first of the math campers will have graduated. Prior to our program only about 60% of the students that started in precalculus in the Fall semester enrolled in calculus and engineering fundamentals the following Spring semester. Tracking these students over the last three years shows an increase of about 10% for students enrolling in calculus and engineering fundamentals in the following Spring semester. Updates on the retention and graduate rates of both at risk groups will be compared to rates prior to the program and for students that participate in the program compared to students that did not participate in the program. An analysis of how many students the different interventions have served, the costs of the different interventions, and the retention of students in the college of engineering, STEM fields, and at the university for of each intervention will be provided.

Rawn, C. J., & Bennett, R. M. (2016, June), Research and Instructional Strategies for Engineering Retention Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26077

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: © 2016 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