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Supporting Academically-Struggling Students in an Engineering First Year Program: Course Evolution

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2017 FYEE Conference


Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication Date

August 6, 2017

Start Date

August 6, 2017

End Date

August 8, 2017

Conference Session

Student Success & Development - Focus on Academic Support

Tagged Topic

FYEE Division - Paper Submission

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Paper Authors


Hailey Queen North Carolina State University

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Hailey Queen is the Coordinator of Engineering First Year Programs for NC State University. In this role she coordinates New Student Orientation programs for the College, facilitates the first year introductory course including First Year Engineering Design Day, contributes to and teaches the academic support course for first year students, and advises unmatriculated students. Hailey has earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from NC State in Textile Engineering as well as a graduate certificate in Counselor Education. Prior to her work at NC State she worked in engineering project management for pharmaceutical manufacturers. In her free time she enjoys volunteering for animal-related causes.

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Supporting Academically-Struggling Students in an Engineering First Year Program: Course Evolution

The First Year Engineering program at North Carolina State University has many goals, one of the most important being supporting students through their personal and academic transition from high school to a college-level engineering program. This goal of supporting students during this significant transition period aims to positively impact student outcomes including retention in the College of Engineering and at the University.

Prior to 2009 students who earned less than a 2.0 GPA (Academic Warning) in their first semester were required to meet with their academic advisor within the first four weeks of the spring semester, but were not offered any other specific support. In an effort to enhance support for student transitions and retention for the at-risk population of academically struggling first-year students, the College of Engineering in conjunction with University offices such as Enrollment Management and Retention Services, developed a second-semester course for first-year students who are on Academic Warning. This course was piloted in the spring of 2009.

This academic support course, E 122: Engineering Academic Success, began as a graded, semester long, one-credit-hour course that met once a week and included assignments related to journaling, self-awareness, individual conferences, and skills-building exercises. Learning outcomes included students being able to identify strategies to improve their academic standing; describing areas of improvement needed for their particular academic/transitional challenges; identifying success strategies to utilize in all academic courses, and being able to identify campus resources that may aid in their personal and academic success. The course was exclusively facilitated by Engineering Academic Affairs staff, Enrollment Management staff, and Academic Support Programs for Student Athletes (ASPSA) staff. The course was required for some students and optional for others.

Over the past eight years the course has evolved with observational, anecdotal, and quantitative evidence as instructors have annually evaluated what has been effective for student enrollment and participation, and for academic and retention-based outcomes. Some changes over the years have had positive outcomes, others have had negative outcomes, and still others have seen no changes. The current form of the course is considered to include the best practices to date, which have evolved over the eight-year life of the course. The current version of E 122 can be described as a graded, eight-week, one-credit-hour course that meets twice a week, and includes assignments related to skills-reflection and skills-building exercises. The course is facilitated by College of Engineering Academic Affairs staff and is supported by guest lecturers from on-campus content experts in the areas of stress management, counseling resources, academic and tutoring resources, etc. The course is required for two populations of students; those on Academic Warning after their first semester and those who failed to successfully complete the required introductory engineering course taught in the fall semester.

Queen, H. (2017, August), Supporting Academically-Struggling Students in an Engineering First Year Program: Course Evolution Paper presented at 2017 FYEE Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida.

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