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Three Strategies For Improving The Graduation Of Engineering Minorities

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Retention Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1346.1 - 10.1346.14



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Paper Authors

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Walter Fisher

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

MECH 4354 Fluid Mechanics, the opportunity for practice is not always achieved in the classroom. We are instituting the use of Peer Master Teachers [PMTs], who will provide the equivalency of tutorials to the students enrolled in the course. These tutorials involve study sessions led by the top students from previous sections of this course in what is effectively peer- to-peer instruction. The PMT students will receive training in teaching strategies and methods and the role of actively engaging peers. The process, training and methods used will be documented and will form the basis for dissemination to other courses, including but not limited to the Mechanics I and Mechanics II courses mentioned above. The project is seen as a catalyst for change whereby “gate-keeper” courses become new “gate-ways” to success. It is planned to incorporate a variety of pedagogical approaches – strategies and approaches that have proven successful in many engineering education environments8. These include collaborative learning arrangements, team teaching and an emphasis on reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation for experiences both in and outside of the classroom/laboratory environment9. Traditional laboratory work is being augmented to include evening and weekend workshops associated with students’ assignments, but designed to have students consciously move from “receptor” to self-directed learners who are at ease with learning as an experiential process that actively involves them in establishing learning goals, choosing learning strategies that are most likely to help them achieve their goals, and assessing the results of their efforts10.

Redesign efforts are expected to result in improved passing rates, students having successful mastery of the theoretical and applied learning that will be required of them in Upper Division courses, and an overall increased retention rate leading to higher graduation rates.

Active Mentoring for Female Engineering Students

Increasing the graduation rates of female engineering students is the second major focus of current efforts. The average female undergraduate engineering enrollment has been about 22% over the period 1998 to 2003. The six year graduation rate for the 1998 cohort of freshmen women is 45%. The role that mentoring and support play in the success of women in engineering and science has been internationally validated by Sir Gareth Robert’s review of science and engineering skills and attitudes, completed as part of the UK Government’s productivity and innovation strategy11. Several intervention activities are being created based on interaction between female faculty, staff and students. A team of two female engineering undergraduate students, a female staff member and a female faculty member are working on developing several activities and programs that will facilitate interactions between female engineering students12. Three major activities are in the development stages and include (1) The development of an all female section of the freshmen university seminar (Seminar in Critical Inquiry), (2) The development of a professional engineering seminar and (3) The initiation of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) student chapter with formal ties to the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Fisher, W. (2005, June), Three Strategies For Improving The Graduation Of Engineering Minorities Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15044

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