June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1205.1 - 13.1205.16
The Back-To-Basics Peer Tutoring Program: Results and Experiences
Engineering institutions nationwide are facing a troika of problems: recruitment, student preparedness and retention. The situation has merited national attention due to potential impact on the status of the nation as a global technical leader. With the onslaught of global economics, the number of students enrolled in engineering programs has been steadily decreasing in the United States. Due to these factors, it is of vital importance, more than ever before, that students who choose the engineering path are nurtured and retained in the system. This viewpoint is not shared however by the service departments that deal with the “masses”. The student retention rate for the first and second years of engineering programs has been steady at around 50%. It is our belief that a program addressing the students affected can make a significant impact on retention statistics. A formalized system that allows experienced students in our degree program to tutor pre-engineering courses appears to be very attractive.
The "Back-to-Basics Tutoring Program" was launched in fall, 2005 in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, with financial support of the State Workforce Development Commission. The program offers an opportunity for qualified graduate students and upper- division undergraduate students to serve as tutors to assist freshman and sophomore engineering students with course-related questions. The program consists of focused student-to-student tutoring for engineering students in the basic areas of sciences (physics and chemistry), mathematics (calculus and differential equations) and computer programming (structured programming and MATLAB) to help them survive the first two years of the program. A previous paper presented in this forum described the structure and assessment methods of the "Back-to- Basics" tutoring and mentoring program and provided preliminary results.
This paper presents an analysis of the data collected under this program over a period of two years, along with experiences, lessons learned, and results. The data consists of statistical analyses of retention rates, including measures to show whether the program works. Such data typically do not have a mechanism to dissociate the effect of “self-selection”. The raw data suggest that the program is helping students achieve higher grades and increasing retention. A set of interesting results from the analysis of student surveys is also presented.
Engineering institutions nationwide are facing a troika of problems: recruitment, student preparedness and retention. With the onslaught of global economics, the number of students enrolled in engineering programs has been steadily decreasing in the United States. The situation has merited national attention due to potential impact on the status of the nation as a global technical leader. The recent report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” brings the issues to the forefront as well as possible remedies1. It is emphasized by many experts that the increasingly competitive global marketplace will demand a lot more from our engineering graduates in the
Shirvaikar, M., & Beams, D., & Shrestha, S. (2008, June), The Back To Basics Peer Tutoring Program: Results And Experiences Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3170
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