June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Retention of undergraduate students in the College of Engineering (CoE) at Louisiana State University (LSU) has been a concern for many years; this has led administrators to ask: what additional academic support should be available so more students are retained and graduate? This question has a multitude of answers that have varying levels of effectiveness. One approach to increase retention is a peer led learning module called Supplemental Instruction (SI), which is currently funded by the NSF STEM Talent Expansion Program for sophomore level engineering courses. SI is an inexpensive program that utilizes undergraduate students who have previously taken and received a high grade in difficult, high enrollment courses. These student SIs hold active learning sessions and focus on the problem solving process that commonly confounds engineering students. LSU’s engineering SI program was created in 2013 and has been available to over 4000 students, with two-thirds of these opting to participate in the program (n=2738). Previous research conducted by the authors has shown that SI improves LSU students' success in these courses, with those who utilize SI passing at a much higher rate; other institutions across the United States have illustrated similar successes. Measuring student success outside of the individual courses where SI is offered was not explored in this work and leads to a bigger question: “Are students who attend SI are more likely to be retained and to graduate in engineering.” At LSU, the answer to this question is yes. Students who attend SI regularly, defined as attending 34% or more of sessions, have a graduation and retention rate of 91% through year four of their respective majors. Students who do not utilize SI have a graduation and retention rate of 77%. This suggests that students who regularly attend SI have a 14% higher chance of persisting in their respective engineering curriculum. Although Supplemental Instruction has been shown to benefit students in its respective courses, it is clear that SI is benefiting students past the individual course and onwards through graduation. This can be attributed to many reasons such as improved study habits, improved problem solving abilities, and a greater sense of community with fellow students all attained through attending SI.
Gegenheimer, J. B., & Wilson, C. A., & Steele, A., & Waggenspack, W. N. (2017, June), Utilizing a Student-Led Program to Make Major Leaps in Persistence Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29098
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