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Work in Progress: Impacting Engineering First-year Student Retention Through a Nonconventional Engineering Learning Community

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

First-year Programs: Retention and Bridge Programs #1

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

11

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35647

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35647

Download Count

66

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Paper Authors

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Sonia M. Bartolomei-Suarez University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Sonia M. Bartolomei-Suarez is a Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez (UPRM). She graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering from UPRM (1983), a MSIE (1985) from Purdue University, and a PhD in Industrial Engineering (1996) from The Pennsylvania State University. Her teaching and research interests include: Discrete Event Simulation, Facilities Planning, Material Handling Systems, Women in Academia in STEM fields, Engineering in Education and Access to Post-Secondary Education. From August 2006 through February 2008, she was the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the College of Engineering. She was Co-Pi of the NSF’s UPRM ADVANCE IT Catalyst Project awarded during 2008. From 2008-2016, she was Co-PI of the USDE’s Puerto Rico College Access Challenge Grant Project. From 2015-2018, she was the Coordinator of the UPRM College of Engineering Recruitment, Retention and Distance Engineering Education Program (R2DEEP). Currently, she is Co-PI of the project "Recruiting, Retaining, and Engaging Academically Talented Students from Economically Disadvantaged Groups into a Pathway to Successful Engineering Careers," sponsored by NSF DUE.

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Manuel A. Jimenez University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Dr. Jimenez is a professor at the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department in the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM). He earned his B.S from Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1986, M.S. from Univ. of Puerto Rico Mayaguez in 1991, and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1999. His current teaching and research interests include design, characterization, and rapid prototyping of information processing systems, embedded cyber-physical systems, and engineering education. He is the lead author of the textbook Introduction to Embedded Systems: Using Microcontrollers and the MSP430 (Springer 2014). From 2013 to 2018 served as Associate Dean of engineering at UPRM. He currently directs the Engineering PEARLS program at UPRM, a College-wide NSF funded initiative, and coordinates the Rapid Systems Prototyping and the Electronic Testing & Characterization Laboratories at UPRM. He is a member of ASEE and IEEE.

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Luisa Guillemard University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Luisa Guillemard is a psychology professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. She has a M.S. in Clinical Psychology from the Caribbean Center of Advanced Studies in Puerto Rico [today the Carlos Albizu University] and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University, post-graduate training in evaluation at The Evaluators Institute (TEI) at George Washington University and the AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute. Besides teaching, she has worked as an evaluator in grants awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Currently she is the internal evaluator for the projects Recruiting, Retaining and Engaging Academically Talented Students from Economically Disadvantaged Groups into a Pathway to Successful Engineering Careers (PEARLS) and for Building Capacity at Collaborative Undergraduate STEM Program in Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure (RISE-UP). Both projects are funded by NSF.

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Oscar Marcelo Suarez University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3797-4787

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Professor Oscar Marcelo Suarez joined the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez in 2000. A Fellow of ASM International, he is the Coordinator of the Materials Science and Engineering graduate program, the first of its kind in Puerto Rico. He is also the director of the university's Nanotechnology Center Phase II, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. Currently, his work focuses on aluminum alloys, metal matrix composites, and concrete modified with nanoparticles as well as biocomposites for biocidal applications. Important components of his interests are education and outreach to underrepresented minorities.

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Aidsa I. Santiago-Román University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Dr. Aidsa I. Santiago-Román is a Professor and Chair in the Engineering Sciences and Materials (CIIM) Department at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM). Dr. Santiago earned a BS and MS in Industrial Engineering from UPRM and Ph.D in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Dr. Santiago has over 20 years of experience in academia and has been successful obtaining funding and publishing for various research projects. She's also the founder and advisor of the first ASEE student chapter in Puerto Rico.

Her primary research interests include investigating students’ understanding of difficult concepts in engineering sciences, especially for underrepresented populations. She also works in the development and evaluation of various engineering curriculum and courses at UPRM applying the outcome-based educational framework.

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Nayda G. Santiago University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-6049-8782

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Nayda G. Santiago is professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) where she teaches the Capstone Course in Computer Engineering. She received an BS in EE from the University of PR, Mayaguez in 1989, a MEng in EE from Cornell University in 1990, and a PhD in EE from Michigan State University in 2003. She leads the Southeast region of the Computing Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions (CAHSI). Dr. Santiago is NCWIT academic alliance member, member of Henaac, SACNAS, IEEE, and ACM.

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Carla Lopez del Puerto University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0334-7208

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Carla López del Puerto, Ph.D. is a Professor of Construction Engineering and Management in the Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez Campus.

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Pedro O. Quintero University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Pedro Quintero earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and an M.S .from that same institution. After spending nine years in the electronics industry, he joined the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, in 2008 as an Assistant Professor.

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Nelson Cardona-Martínez University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1523-0960

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Anidza Valentin University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8981-653X

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Dr. Anidza Valentín is currently the Library Director at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez and Coordinator of the Center for the Development of Information Literacy and Bibliographic Research (CEDIBI, in Spanish). She develops and offers workshops to the entire academic community on reference management tools, citation styles, searching strategies, tools to identify plagiarism, and formal courses in library research methods. In addition, she develops and manages content for the official Library website in addition to managing various service platformsm. She is currently the Library Liaison of the Business Administration School. Dr. Valentin received her Doctoral degree in Management Information Systems in 2013, her first master’s degree in Management Information Systems (MBA) in 2007 and her second Master's in Information Sciences in 2014 from the School of Information Sciences and Technologies of the University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras.

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Abstract

The College of Engineering (CoE) in our institution, although enjoying a modest 92% freshmen retention rate, contradicts common statistics. While freshman retention rates in the last ten years has remained virtually unchanged, graduation rates have been observed a decline of more than 15% in the same period.

To increase persistence, graduation rates, and professional success of low-income, academically talented students (LIATS), the CoE has initiated the Program for Engineering Access, Retention, and LIATS Success (PEARLS). The main objective of this project is identifying and understanding which factors play an important role in the college access and success in engineering of LIATS. PEARLS proposes a portable model aimed at dictating guidelines for institutional policies and intervention methods that allow our institution to strengthen retention strategies and in the long run contribute to increase graduation rates of economically disadvantaged students.

Throughout PEARLS, incoming engineering freshmen are exposed to multiple institutional experiences. Two of these experiences are one-credit courses: Introduction to Engineering (INGE-3001) in their first freshman semester, and Introduction to Engineering Learning Communities (ELC) (INGE-3002) in the second semester. INGE-3001 is designed introduce LIATS to all engineering disciplines offered in the CoE, allowing them understanding the structure and difference between programs to reassure their career choice. INGE-3002 is designed to deepen students’ knowledge about their chosen field of study and the importance of fundamental math, science, and basic engineering courses in the solution of real life problems. To this end, INGE-3002 connects first semester freshmen LIATS with senior students working in special-project design teams or with teams developing their capstone design project, developing a non-conventional learning community. During the interactions, freshmen learn about engineering design, follow-up the seniors’ solution development, and participate in the presentations of the teams. LIATS are tasked with identifying the usage of fundamental math, science, and engineering concepts to complete the design; with the primary objective of showing them the importance of these first courses in their curriculum in their professional development; and at the same time to motivate them to appreciate and put effort into learning and doing well in these courses that for many of them are not relevant to the engineering career and become the reason for leaving this career.

This article presents a description of the INGE-3002 course, the course objectives and metrics established to evaluate its effectiveness. We describe the experience of ELC for three semesters. Finally, the article presents and analyzes the results obtained from the implementation of this scheme, identifying what we consider encouraging results and lessons learned as a method to establish guidelines for its continuous application.

Some results: the majority of the students who took INGE-3002 reported that the course impacted them very much or a lot in the following areas: made them aware of the importance of basic engineering courses (86%, 13 of 15), strengthen their interest in the engineering major that they selected (66.66%, 10 of 15), strengthen their decision to study engineer (60%, 9 of 15), gave them the opportunity to connect with seniors working in their capstone design project (60%, 9 of 15), and learned more about engineering designs (60%, 9 of 15).

Bartolomei-Suarez, S. M., & Jimenez, M. A., & Guillemard, L., & Suarez, O. M., & Santiago-Román, A. I., & Santiago, N. G., & Lopez del Puerto, C., & Quintero, P. O., & Cardona-Martínez, N., & Valentin, A. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Impacting Engineering First-year Student Retention Through a Nonconventional Engineering Learning Community Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35647

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