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Underrepresented Students Mentored Learning Environment

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Developing Young Minds in Engineering: Part I

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1393.1 - 25.1393.8



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Paper Authors


Blair J. McDonald University of Texas, Pan American

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Blair J. McDonald is a Associate Professor and Civil Engineering Program Director.

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Under-represented Students Mentored Learning EnvironmentAbstractIn engineering programs, under-represented students come from many segments of the nationand often experience problems with learning early in their degree programs. Their problemsmay be associated with inadequate study skills, insufficient prerequisite knowledge, anunfamiliar environment or a host of other things that a degree program can neither predict orcontrol. Regardless of the cause, the hurdles to learning must be quickly overcome for thestudent to progress in their degree program and be successful. For these students, identifyinglearning issues mid semester or later during an advising session that is focused on selectingclasses for the next term is probably too late to effectively rescue the student in the current term.Problems must be identified early and assistance made available to remediate any identifiedproblems immediately. A Mentored Learning Environment was established to provide under-represented students virtually unrestricted access to the faculty, upper division and/or graduatestudent mentors and a common study area. It is a deliberate attempt to get these students tomingle with mature students and faculty without "enrolling" them in a "special" program. Theprogram's key objective is to get students to teach each other with mentors available to interveneonly when necessary. Started with virtually no funding, laboratory space with 20% utilizationwas made available to students to study in during the unused 80% of the schedule. The programwas initiated in the Fall 2011 term. The performance and retention of students observed tofrequent the program will be compared to their peers not taking advantage of the offer.The motivation for this program and its objectives are discussed. Data collected following thefirst semester of operation is (will be) presented and discussed. Conclusions are drawn regardingthe programs impact on first year and returning students.

McDonald, B. J. (2012, June), Underrepresented Students Mentored Learning Environment Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22150

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