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Value of Experiential Experiences for Diverse Student Populations Within Engineering Disciplines

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Cooperative and Experiential Education Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Cooperative and Experiential Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38008

Download Count

27

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Paper Authors

biography

Carol S. Stwalley Purdue University at West Lafayette

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Dr. Carol S. Stwalley, PE joined the Minority Engineering Program team in the fall of 2007 as Recruitment and Retention Analyst. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Biological Engineering (ABE), MSABE, and PhD ABE from Purdue University. Carol has more than 14 years in diversity work with considerable background working with the Women in Engineering Programs at Purdue. In her current capacity as Recruitment and Retention Analyst for the Minority Engineering Program and the Purdue Office of Institutional Assessment, Dr. Stwalley collects, analyzes and manages data pertaining to the outreach, recruitment, retention and graduation of engineering students from historically underrepresented groups.

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Robert Merton Stwalley III P.E. Purdue University at West Lafayette

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Dr. Robert M. Stwalley III, P.E. joined the Agricultural & Biological Engineering department as a faculty member in the fall of 2013. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Biological Engineering (ABE) and his M.S.E. and Ph.D. from Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. Dr. Stwalley is the former Director of Professional Practice at Purdue, has more than 20 years in STEM education, and has been a long-term advocate for improving equity in education. He is a long serving public school board member and President of the Indiana School Board Association. In his current capacity as an ABE professor, Dr. Stwalley works on precision livestock instrumentation to improve animal welfare and performance, increasing potable water access in the developing world through tube well utilization, and equity in access to higher education for low socio-economic status students. Dr. Stwalley developed the Rising Scholars program to help demonstrate that access and support are the most crucial elements of success in higher education for STEM majors.

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Grace Lynn Baldwin

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Grace Baldwin, joined the Rising Scholar NSF S-STEM program in the Summer of 2017 as a Graduate Research Assistant. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree at Purdue University in Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) with a focus in Environment and Natural Resources Engineering. She has worked with the Rising Scholars' Program during the completion of her Master of Science in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and into her current Ph.D. program at Purdue University also in ABE. As part of the Rising Scholars’ program, she has helped plan and organize the student recruitment events, align students with summer research experiences and faculty mentors, and conduct student interviews for program analysis and evaluation. Ms. Baldwin has actively contributed to the collection and analysis of data for the Rising Scholars program, as well as the dissemination of information about the progress of the program.

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Virginia Lynn Booth-Womack Purdue University at West Lafayette

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Virginia received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering and a B.A. in Psychology while at Purdue University. She is currently the Director of Minority Engineering Programs in the College of Engineering. She assumed the position in 2004 after 18 years of manufacturing experience. Her last assignment was Lean Manufacturing Manager for the for the 3.7L and 4.7L Mack Engine facilities at Chrysler Corporation in Detroit, Michigan. Virginia has applied lean manufacturing concepts to identify and close the achievement gap between under-represented minority engineering students and the total engineering cohort. This was achieved focusing on first semester performance and first year retention through implementation of an aggressive transition program targeting first year engineering students from historically under-represented groups. She recently was called upon to serve as interim Executive Director for the National Society of Black Engineers from December 2013 through August 2014 during which time the organization experienced membership growth and strong metric focus towards goal attainment.

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Sarah LaRose

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Dr. Sarah E. LaRose joined the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication at Purdue University in the fall of 2018 as an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut, and her Ph.D. in Agricultural Education and Communication from the University of Florida. Dr. LaRose has over 13 years of experience in agricultural education in secondary and postsecondary settings. Since joining the faculty at Purdue, Dr. LaRose serves as a teacher educator, preparing future agricultural educators to meet the needs of a diverse array of learners in their classes. She teaches coursework in curriculum design, laboratory teaching practices, and teaching methods in agricultural education. Central to all of Dr. LaRose’s work as an educator and a scholar is an effort to address inequities in agricultural education curriculum, program design, and recruitment practices.

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Abstract

An NSF S-STEM grant to explore the connection between student support networks and success within collegiate STEM field majors supported this on-going diversity study. Low socio-economic status applicants that were denied admission straight into engineering, but given admission into the university, were recruited for the Rising Scholar Program. The quality of the student’s support networks and their readiness for higher education were used as input data for a Web of Support characterization model to predict a student’s likely collegiate success at the matriculation point. For providing data to the researchers and following a proscribed path through the institution designed to interact with professional contacts and potential support network members, the Rising Scholar student was provided with an annual scholarship of $6,500. A significant programmatic element for these students was their involvement in experiential activities through pre-existing programs in the institution.

Professional Practice students have long indicated that the career focus provided by the experiential experience helps provide enthusiasm for continuing traditional academic learning and affords insight into the individual’s desired professional career progression. It was reasonably assumed that the Rising Scholars student population could be positively influenced toward long-term educational commitment through experiential activities providing realistic views of professional activity. The proscribed collegiate path for these students contained an experiential educational element for each summer between admission and graduation. A pre-collegiate academic boot camp with a preview of collegiate-level academic expectations initially prepared students for the rigors of modern college life. A summer research project with a faculty-directed laboratory before the sophomore year and a self-directed research project prior to the junior year were used to build project management experience, and a paid, external internship with a professional organization likely to hire within the student’s major provided the final summer activity. Communication exercises creating undergraduate journal articles for the students based upon their experiences were incorporated into the fall seminar classes.

The Rising Scholars students have been data matched with appropriately characterized students who were admitted directly into engineering and students who were admitted into exploratory studies with an interest in an engineering major. All Rising Scholars students began in the exploratory studies program. Preliminary data analysis suggests that the Rising Scholars are retained at all levels at significantly equivalent rates to the matching engineering cohort and outperform both the engineering and exploratory studies cohorts on GPA level. Based upon the limited data collected so far, the researchers seem to have been conclusively demonstrated that a structured, ‘high touch’ program with a heavy experiential component can successfully move low SES students with STEM inclinations through a highly ranked institution. Counselling to reduce the anxiety surrounding the collegiate process for first generation students and some form of scholarship support to reduce the financial burden are crucial underlying elements to this program’s success, but the importance of hands-on, experiential activities in helping the student visualize their professional career cannot be under-estimated. Program exit interviews will attempt to quantify the influence of this factor.

Stwalley, C. S., & Stwalley, R. M., & Baldwin, G. L., & Booth-Womack, V. L., & LaRose, S. (2021, July), Value of Experiential Experiences for Diverse Student Populations Within Engineering Disciplines Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38008

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