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Student Assisted Guidance In Engineering (Sage): A Mentoring Course To Retain Freshmen On Academic Probation

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

FPD8 - Early Intervention & Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1104.1 - 13.1104.21



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Paper Authors


Joyce Lee University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Joyce Lee received her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006. She is currently working in the Office of Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include minority student retention in the STEM fields, policy and program evaluation, and mixed-methodology and mixed-methods research design.

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Jacob Marszalek University of Missouri-Kansas City

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Jacob Marszalek received a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006. He is currently an assistant professor of educational research and psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and his research interests include educational and psychological measurement, quantitative methodology and research design, program evaluation, and motivation.

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Annel Medina California Polytechnic State University

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Annel Denise Medina received a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2007. She is currently an evaluation and assessment coordinator for the College of Education and Integrative Studies at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. Her reserarch interests include home school partnerships, minority access to higher education, and qualitative research design.

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Susan Linnemeyer University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Susan A. Linnemeyer is Director of Special Programs in the
College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. She received
her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1985. Her research
interests include identification of high ability youth and the
retention of students with emphasis on underserved populations in engineering.

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

Student Assisted Guidance in Engineering (SAGE): A Mentoring Course to Retain Freshmen on Academic Probation


From 2005-06 to 2006-07, the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign realized a 30 percent overall increase of underserved populations in engineering due to more aggressive recruitment efforts. Successful recruitment of students; however, does not guarantee successful retention. At the end of the fall 2006 semester, 33.3% of the Black freshmen and 17.3% of the Hispanic freshmen were on academic probation. Overall, 9.3% of engineering freshmen were on probation. SAGE – Student Assisted Guidance in Engineering) was a three-hour class initiated in the spring semester of 2007 to increase retention among these students on probation.

The major outcome of the qualitative analysis was that students’ probation experience extended beyond the academic realm. When asked what the most pressing issues were in their lives, students discussed family issues, relationship difficulties, financial stresses and so on – above and beyond their probation status. As such, above and beyond the academic assistance, SAGE represented a form of caring by the college, addressing probation students in a more comprehensive and responsive manner.

Overall, the retention rate of the enrollees was 72.9%, which was seen as a substantial success. However, by the end of the subsequent semester, many students were back on probation or were dropped from the university. This paper examines what happened during SAGE and reflects on what must be improved upon.


The underrepresentation of minority students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (hereafter STEM) has been an enduring crisis in U.S. education. Decrying such inequity, efforts increased from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s to educate and train minority students in the technical fields. To that end, one would be hard pressed to find a higher education institution that had not developed some sort of program to support minority students’ STEM participation1. Though the rate at which students seek to study STEM is increasingly comparable by race/ethnicity, the rate of students graduating with STEM degrees is still disparate2 3 4. The challenge remains to continue and accelerate the growth of underrepresented students successfully traversing the STEM pipeline.

Used to discuss the processes of student attrition and retention, the notion of the educational pipeline is “perhaps one of the most enduring metaphors in all of education”5, particularly in post-compulsory education. Those still participating in the educational system are described as being “in the pipeline” thus identifying those who depart from schools as “leaks” from it. In the context of higher education, this underrepresentation is commonly understood as the result of the dearth of minority students choosing to study STEM as well as the excess number of minority students leaving STEM6. Though many enter the STEM pipeline at the college level, not all successfully make it through. This outward movement is both expected and accepted. However,

Lee, J., & Marszalek, J., & Medina, A., & Linnemeyer, S. (2008, June), Student Assisted Guidance In Engineering (Sage): A Mentoring Course To Retain Freshmen On Academic Probation Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4326

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