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The Eees/Connector Faculty Program: Surveys Of Attitudes, Experience And Evaluations

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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

Mentoring First Year Students

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1221.1 - 15.1221.26



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Paper Authors


Daina Briedis Michigan State Univesity

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Dr. Daina Briedis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University. Dr. Briedis has been involved in several areas of education research including student retention, curriculum redesign, and the use of technology in the classroom. She is a co-PI on two NSF grants in the areas of integration of computation in engineering curricula and in developing comprehensive strategies to retain early engineering students. She is active nationally and internationally in engineering accreditation and is a Fellow of ABET.

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Nathaniel Ehrlich Michigan State University

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Nat Ehrlich is a Research Specialist at Michigan State University's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR). Nat has taught psychology at the University of Michigan and City College, City University of New York, and conducted research in a wide variety of topics, including forensic psychiatry, animal behavior, and mathematical modeling of human learning and performance. He has published over 60 monographs and two textbooks in psychology. At IPPSR, Nat has worked in opinion research and managed work and authored more than a dozen papers in survey research methodology and in areas such as childhood literacy, pro bono legal work, food safety, the electoral college, influences of cultural differences in cancer survival, the training of osteopathic physicians and others.

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Colleen McDonough Michigan State University

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Colleen A. McDonough is a graduate assistant in the College of Engineering at Michigan State University. She is the coordinator of three component projects of a National Science Foundation grant focusing on retention issues and engaging early engineering students, and also serves as an academic advisor. Prior to coming to MSU, Colleen spent ten years as a development officer in the non-profit sector. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from William Smith College and her master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. McDonough is currently a doctoral student in the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education program at Michigan State. Her areas of interest include educational theory, student development and education policy.

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Jon Sticklen Michigan State University

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Jon Sticklen is the Director of the Center for Engineering Education Research at Michigan State University. Dr. Sticklen is also Director of Applied Engineering Sciences, an undergraduate bachelor of science degree program in the MSU College of Engineering. He also is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Dr. Sticklen has lead a laboratory in knowledge-based systems focused on task specific approaches to problem solving. Over the last decade, Dr. Sticklen has pursued engineering education research focused on early engineering; his current research is supported by NSF/DUE and NSF/CISE.

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Thomas Wolff Michigan State University

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Dr. Thomas F. Wolff is Associate Dean of Engineering for Undergraduate Studies at Michigan State University. He is principal investigator on several NSF grants related to retention of engineering students. As a faculty member in civil engineering, he co-teaches a large introductory course in civil engineering. His research and consulting activities have focused on the safety and reliability of hydraulic structures, and he has participated as an expert in three different capacities regarding reviews of levee performance in Hurricane Katrina. He is a recipient of his college’s Withrow Award for Teaching Excellence, a recipient of the Chi Epsilon Regional Teaching Award, and a recipient of the U.S. Army Commander’s Award medal for Public Service.

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

The EEES/Connector Faculty Program: Surveys of Attitudes, Experience and Evaluations Abstract

Retention of early engineering students is a nation-wide concern that will affect the strength of the future engineering workforce and the role of the United States as a dominant world player in engineering and technology. Increasing the number of undergraduate engineers can be accomplished by recruitment, retention, or a combination of both. The research described in this paper is part of a larger, integrated retention effort at Michigan State University College of Engineering that has been funded by a five-year NSF STEP (STEM Talent Expansion Program) grant to “Engage Early Engineering Students (EEES)”. The project goals are to increase student retention locally by 10 percentage points and to provide a transferable model for increasing retention at other large state institutions.

Specifically this paper describes the research that was conducted during the Spring (January- May) 2009 term at Michigan State University by the Office for Survey Research (OSR) for the EEES team on one particular thrust of the project, the implementation of a “Connector Faculty” student mentoring program. The objective of the research was to establish baseline measures for the EEES project in general and the Connector Faculty (CF) program in particular. Results of four surveys taken of faculty and students are reported. While the program has not been in place long enough to determine college-wide retention outcomes, early results show that this program may have a positive effect on achieving the retention goals of this project.


The College of Engineering (COE) at Michigan State University (MSU) has embarked on a five- year program aimed at increasing student retention. Freshmen entering MSU may initially declare engineering as an intended major, but students are not officially accepted until they complete six required courses (generally as late sophomores or early juniors) and attain a required grade point average. Over the past five years, approximately 65% of the freshmen who declare their intention to enter engineering actually graduate from the college. The five-year program, titled Engaging Early Engineering Students (EEES) has set a goal of increasing that percentage to 75%.

Historically, about half of the students who begin with the intention to study engineering but do not graduate are not retained because of failing to meet the curriculum and grade requirements. A similar number choose a different course of study, even though they have successfully completed the required coursework. EEES is designed to help retain the prospective students in a four-part effort as shown in the graphic on the following page. Three of the parts are designed to help students meet the academic requirements of the program:

data-driven early intervention, making tools available to students who are seen as needing help with their core courses peer assisted learning (PAL) for undergraduate COE students who study in targeted gateway core courses

Briedis, D., & Ehrlich, N., & McDonough, C., & Sticklen, J., & Wolff, T. (2010, June), The Eees/Connector Faculty Program: Surveys Of Attitudes, Experience And Evaluations Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15911

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015