New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Two Year College Division
Traditional scholarships provide tuition. Some extend support to books and supplies. For two-year college students, however, this is often not enough to overcome barriers to success for financially needy, academically talented students. An innovative scholarship program has achieved a 81.9% on-time graduation rate for students in engineering technology programs and other advanced technologies by addressing a barrier referred to as the “digital divide.” A technology support element was added to a National Science Foundation-funded S-STEM scholarship program in 2004 to address a well-documented need among prospective scholars. Many scholarship recipients did not have access to a personal computer with the software and capability to do assigned work when off campus. To be successful, students were making extra trips to the campus to work in an on-campus computer lab. Very often, this also created additional child-care needs and costs. To remove this barrier, a loan-to-own laptop computer with appropriate software was added to the scholarship award along with books, tuition, and supplies required by the student’s program of study. Students selected for S-STEM scholarships are assigned a powerful laptop computer that is pre-loaded with software specific to the student’s program of study. The laptop is inventoried by the college library but remains checked-out to the student throughout his or her semesters of study at the college. The student scholar has the computer to use through graduation as long as scholarship criteria are met. Upon graduation, laptop computer ownership is transferred from the college to the student to promote continued success either in the workplace or at the senior institution to which the student transfers. Students failing to maintain the required 3.0 GPA or who leave the college for more than one semester for any reason other than military service must return the computer to the college and forfeit their scholarship. Based on data about Internet access issues for scholarship recipients between 2004 and 2012, an additional barrier for S-STEM scholarship recipients was removed in 2012 by adding a free mobile wireless Internet device to the scholarship package. Every course offered by the college requires students to have access to the Internet, and this device enables students to connect to the Internet, study, and complete assignments wherever they are between classes. Scholars are also required to follow the curriculum outline for their chosen program of study. Following the curriculum layout helps ensure on-time graduation, whereas taking courses out of sequence is a major contributor to delayed graduation. The combination of the scholarship with technology support and adherence to the curriculum layout has made on-time graduation and success possible for students who otherwise would not have been able to complete associate degrees in engineering technology or related advanced technologies covered by the S-STEM scholarship program. The model has been documented and includes procedures used by the college for implementation, data pertaining to student success, and program costs.
Craft, E. L. (2016, June), When a Traditional Scholarship is Simply Not Enough: Addressing the Digital Divide to Recruit and Motivate Engineering Technology Students through Graduation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27197
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