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Student Perceived Value Of Academic Support Interventions

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Education: Underclass Years

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1118.1 - 15.1118.19



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Paper Authors


Valerie Young Ohio University-Athens

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Valerie Young is Associate Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Ohio University. She currently serves as Awards Co-Chair for the Chemical Engineering Division of ASEE, and previously served as Division chair. She teaches chemical engineering courses at all levels, from freshmen to graduate. Her research area is atmospheric chemistry and air pollution.

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

Student-Perceived Value of Academic Support Interventions


Student retention, particularly first-year retention, is widely of concern in engineering education. In 2005, a feature article in ASEE’s Prism magazine reviewed interventions implemented by engineering programs nationwide in an attempt to increase the retention of first-year students. Regardless of availability, interventions cannot be effective if students do not participate, or if they are present in body but not in spirit. It seems likely that a student’s perception of the value of any particular intervention is likely to strongly influence the frequency and quality of his/her participation. Perception may come from personal experience, or be influenced by conversations with peers.

Here, freshmen registered for engineering majors at one university are surveyed at the start of their second term of study to determine students’ perception of the value of various academic support activities to their academic development. The goal is to identify intervention strategies which have perceived positive impacts on freshmen engineering student success, and to explore the extent to which these perceptions are based on personal vs. vicarious experience. This survey is part of a longer-term project in which the objective effectiveness of these interventions (as measured by retention and by GPA) will be evaluated. Presentation at the 2010 meeting will be of the first year’s results only, focusing on three interventions: Engineering Freshman Learning Communities, Supplemental Instruction for Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Chemistry, and Peer-Led Team Learning for Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Chemistry.

From this preliminary data, it was found that peer opinions (at least when they are positive) seem to have little influence on a student’s attitude towards a particular academic support program, or on whether or not the student actually participates in the academic support program. The results suggest that contact by academic advisors with both students (and prospective students) and their parents to encourage utilization of academic support resources is potentially highly-effective.


A brief review of the literature shows student retention in engineering to have been of concern for more decades. A 2005 feature article in ASEE’s Prism magazine (Loftus, 2005) featured retention-enhancement programs at a number of universities, and quoted a national average of 52% of engineering freshmen eventually graduating with engineering degrees. The article’s message was that this was an improvement over the prior decade, but still unsatisfactory.

Various authors have reported assessments of the effectiveness of individual retention programs. For example, Baxter and Yates (2008) report an increase in retention of engineering freshmen at the University of Southern California following centralization of freshman advising in the engineering Student Affairs office and implementation of a freshman seminar course for engineers. Morning and Fleming (1994) report on higher-than-predicted retention for minority students participating in a program that emphasizes development of cognitive skills, close relationships with other students and with faculty, and connection to the educational institution.

Young, V. (2010, June), Student Perceived Value Of Academic Support Interventions Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16863

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