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Residence Innovations For Engineering Students

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.447.1 - 4.447.5



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Paper Authors

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David Whitman

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Sally Steadman

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

Session 3453

Residential Innovations for Engineering Students

Sally Steadman and David Whitman College of Engineering, University of Wyoming


Clustering engineering students in the residence halls has proven to be a successful strategy for student retention at the University of Wyoming (UW). This model is based on the highly successful theme floors offered by many housing departments on campuses across the nation. Since the first students that were selected to live on the Engineering Floor during the Fall 1995 semester, an ever-increasing number of students are choosing this arrangement, an indicator of the success of this living arrangement.

A survey, conducted to ascertain student attitudes about the living environment and the perceived benefits of the program, is discussed in this paper. Students are very positive about the innovative living environment. Improved retention and academic performance statistics are reported, thereby demonstrating that the Engineering Floor is an effective method of improving student success in engineering programs.


Student retention can be improved through a variety of strategies. One such strategy, the community building model,1 has produced impressive results for minority student success. This model promotes a high level of collaborative learning through various mechanisms including clustering students in courses and providing student study centers. Given the overwhelming success that has been achieved in minority engineering programs nationwide, the University of Wyoming has expanded these components of the community building model to student living environments, i.e. on-campus housing, for all engineering students. This innovative strategy, and how it impacts student retention, is addressed in this paper.

The central theme of the community building model is collaborative learning, which greatly enhances student learning through deeper understanding of content material. Institutions that have strongly embraced collaborative learning have discovered not only improved academic performance, but improved retention and student satisfaction with the learning experience, improved oral communication skills, and higher student self esteem.1 An essential condition to promoting collaborative learning is creating an environment where the students can conveniently interact and are comfortable doing so. Clustering students in a living environment is an obvious solution to creating this environment.

Additional components of the community building model have also been implemented at UW. Two courses, Orientation to Engineering and Introduction to Engineering Computing, expose students to computer tools to improve academic productivity, provide academic survival skills, and introduce them to the engineering profession. Structured study groups have been established to guide students in using cooperative learning techniques. In addition, students

Whitman, D., & Steadman, S. (1999, June), Residence Innovations For Engineering Students Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. 10.18260/1-2--7921

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