July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
This paper describes progress to date on a five-year National Science Foundation S-STEM project entitled “Creating Retention and Engagement for Academically Talented Engineers” being conducted at a large western land-grant university. The project which is in its second year, has successfully recruited two cohorts of students (hereafter referred to as scholars) and has awarded scholarships to these thirty two academically talented engineering majors with financial need. The scholars identified as 22 male, 10 female, 18 white, 6 Hispanic, 3 multi-racial, 4 Asian, one Native American, and 10 first-generation. Program numbers mirror similar enrollment trends to the College with the following exceptions: higher female and students of color enrollment. A dedicated team of nine academic and administrative faculty and one graduate student form the management team and work cohesively towards the success of the cohorts. A combination of curricular and co-curricular activities has been put in place during year one of the program and important changes have been implemented during year two based on formative assessment. Curricular support includes tutoring, intrusive advising, regular progress reports from instructors, and, peer and faculty mentoring. Co-curricular support includes a variety of community building activities, a minimum of two mandatory theme seminars based on evidence-based best practices, two required “choice” (elective) activities including a variety of opportunities like job and internship related information sessions, participation in student clubs, engineer’s week, K-12 outreach, undergraduate research, and study abroad. As part of the project, a mixed methods engineering educational study is being carried out to research the changes in engineering interest, self-efficacy and identity of the scholars in the two cohorts. The first cohort has been 100 % retained in the program. Emerging results that highlight the importance of several components of our program in improving scholars’ experiences, include: 1) peer mentors who are effective in building valued relationships with their mentees , 2) engineering related cohort building activities starting early and occurring in formal and informal environments, 3) a one-week bootcamp Engineering – Freshman Intensive Training E-FIT) prior to the start of the first semester where scholars were placed in “packs” together with a peer mentor. Additionally, peer mentors who served as E-FIT mentors were very effective in building valued relationships with their mentees. Data is also being collected on the effect of the pandemic and the fact that scholars have been deprived of face-to-face interactions with other members of their cohorts, their peer and faculty mentors, and have had to adjust to mainly online learning modes. Based on emerging trends in the data, changes are being implemented during year 2 of the program to maintain as much peer and faculty mentor interaction as possible with the cohorts. This is being addressed through a mix of in-person and virtual cohort building activities within the guidelines of the university for maintaining social distance. These combined findings and experiences of our scholars add to the literature surrounding best practices for student support models while demonstrating the transferability of previous results across contexts.
Chatterjee, I., & Scalaro, K., & Vollstedt, A., & LaCombe, J. C., & Williams, J. M., & Kirn, A. (2021, July), S-STEM: Creating Retention and Engagement for Academically Talented Engineers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37694
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