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Summer Transition Program: A Model For Impacting First Year Retention Rates For Underrepresented Groups

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Developing Young MINDS in Engineering: Part II

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1097.1 - 14.1097.8



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Paper Authors


Ruba Alkhasawneh Virginia Commonwealth University

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Ruba A. Alkhasawneh is a Ph.D. student in engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology and Yarmouk University, respectively in Jordan. Her research focuses on diversity issues and engineering education.

Address: 601 West Main Street,PO Box 843068,Richmond, VA 23284-3068; e-mail:

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Rosalyn Hobson Virginia Commonwealth University

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

Summer Transition Program: A model for impacting first year retention rates for underrepresented groups


In order to ensure first year academic success for underrepresented minorities (African American, Hispanic American, and Native American) and increase diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, VCU offered its first Summer Transition program (STP) in summer 2008. The VCU Summer Transition Program was funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) as a part of the Virginia North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (VA-NC LSAMP).

STP was a residential four week program for entering freshmen targeting fourteen STEM majors including engineering, natural sciences, and mathematical sciences. The program focused on developing essential skills such as communication skills and critical thinking; enhancing mathematics and science study skills; and transition smoothly to the university community. This was a rigorous pre-college preparation program, which included; three classes (six credit hours), drop-in tutoring, summer research experiences, field trips, and guest speakers. A four hundred and fifty dollar stipend was awarded to each participant.

I. Introduction:

The lack of students in science, engineering, and technology is a major concern in many developed and developing nations [1]. A recent study by May and Chubin [2] showed that the United States plays a leading role in the development of research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). However, in order for the nation to remain internationally competitive it is necessary for the US to continue to produce a qualified workforce in these fields. Since the population of non-Hispanic white males of the working age will decline 11% in the period between 1995 and 2050, it is necessary to focus on increasing diversity in STEM disciplines [2]. May and Chubin also reported that underrepresented minority students’ performance in science, mathematics, and engineering is less than white and Asian students’ performance in these fields [2]. Tan [3] claimed that “Although it is true that freshman STEM majors have indeed grown in numbers in the last decade or so, women and ethnic minorities (with the exception of Asian Americans) are still underrepresented in STEM disciplines. Compounding the problem are the lower persistence and graduation rates among underrepresented minorities and women”.

First year academic success programs play an effective role in improving retention and graduation rates for underrepresented minority students in science and engineering fields. Literature described that first and second semester grades were strong predictors for students’ retention in engineering majors [4]. Reason [5] reported that first year college GPA, for both minority and non-minority groups, is the main factor that affects student’s retention. Some studies stated that minority students have higher attrition rate [5-7]. Retention rate for underrepresented minority students in science and engineering is approximately 33.3% compared to 66.6% for non-minority groups [8]. Pre-college programs such as summer transition programs

Alkhasawneh, R., & Hobson, R. (2009, June), Summer Transition Program: A Model For Impacting First Year Retention Rates For Underrepresented Groups Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5071

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