Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: Modeling a Tutoring Center to Improve Retention and Promote Student Success in Lower-level Engineering Classes

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Postcard Session 1: Retention and Student Success Strategies

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Hadil Mustafa California State University, Chico

visit author page

Dr. Mustafa received a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California at Irvine in 2012. In 2005, she received a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles. She is currently an Assistant Professor at California State University, Chico specializing in embedded systems design, cyber-physical systems, Computer architecture design, FPGA-based systems design, and Engineering educational innovation and research. Currently, she is a member of the McLeod Institution of Simulation Sciences at Chico state working on evaluating multi-FPGA communication protocols in high-speed real-time simulations and teaches courses in Embedded Systems Design, High-Performance Computing, and Digital Systems Design. She has been actively involved in implementing and evaluating new pedagogical approaches in her classes to promote students’ success and improve retention rates.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This Work in Progress paper will describe a practical model for a multidisciplinary tutoring center that provides support to students in their first technical engineering courses. The paper will focus on evaluating the benefits, influence, and impact such tutoring service has on tutors and tutees. We will also present qualitative and quantitative assessments of the modeled tutoring center. I. Motivation: In recent years, engineering programs have experienced increase in the number of students admitted due to the growing demand for young Engineering professionals. The lower division engineering classes, offered to students from multiple engineering disciplines, have been facing challenges to accommodate the large number of admitted students. Even though such classes may be offered in multiple sessions every semester, the enrollment ranges from 70-150 students per session. The large class size and lack of support available to students in these courses contributes to high failure rate (DFW of 25% or larger) and significantly reduces the retention rate. Most schools offer tutoring services to students in general math, chemistry and biology classes, with little to no emphasis on engineering classes. Tutoring services that targets lower level engineering courses has been limited to individual attempts or club organizations, e.g. IEEE and HKN. Modeling a supervised tutoring center that provides services to engineering students in the first two years of their academic carrier is expected to help improving the success rate in lower division engineering classes and overcome the lack of support in these classes.

II. Background Lower level engineering classes, e.g. circuit analysis, logic design, and introduction to programming, has been classified as bottle neck classes in most engineering programs. The high DFW rate (students achieving D, F or W grade) in these classes, >25%, has been one of the main factors influencing retention and graduation rates. The California State University’s 2025 graduation initiative is searching to identify successful academic support programs that has positive impact on students’ success. The high enrollment rate in freshman classes and lack of support contribute to the consistent low success rate in those classes. Peer tutoring has been proven to provide three times achievement than reducing class size and twice than using computer instructions [1]. Some of the main challenges facing peer tutoring programs include: lack of support, weak structure and lack of administration [2]. The tutoring model in this paper tackles these problems through establishing a structured tutoring center that provides services to students while utilizing a collaborative support from seniors, faculty and administration. We also evaluate the effectiveness of the tutoring service and the impact it has on tutors and tutees. III. Assessment, and anticipated results The paper evaluates the following aspects of the implemented tutoring center: • The effectiveness of one-on-one structured tutoring has on students’ success • The social and academic impact the tutoring center has on tutors and tutees • The advantages and disadvantages of participating as tutors in such programs • The effect involving instructors has on the model’s success. The following measuring tools will be used to assess the successfulness of the program: • Focus groups for tutored students at the end of the academic semester • Focus groups for tutors at the beginning and end of the academic semester • A comparison of the DFW rate between the tutored and un-tutored classes (same classes from current and previous semesters) • Tutored students survey to identify weaknesses and strengths for future implementation. The tutoring center model is expected to improve the success rate while helping students in their first technical engineering classes. Additionally, it is expected to improve the retention rate as most students drop out from the program during the first two years of their study. References [1] Brost, Jolene M, “ An Evaluation of the Peer Tutoring Program at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, WI” [2] M. Anne Powell, M.S.W. “Academic Tutoring and Mentoring: A literature Review”. California Research Bureau, California State Library CRB-97-011

Mustafa, H. (2018, June), Work in Progress: Modeling a Tutoring Center to Improve Retention and Promote Student Success in Lower-level Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31296

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015