Through the support of an NSF IUSE grant project, the College of Engineering and Technology (CET) has implemented a comprehensive strategy and work-plan to increase the retention rate and eventually the graduation rate of severely underprepared aspiring Engineering majors. The institute serves underrepresented minority student population; nearly two thirds of whom rely on Pell grants and about 50% of them are first generation college students. The institution’s struggle to retain general student population is evident from the following data: 78% retention from first to second semester, 66% retention from second to third semester and, the retention rate drops to 50% by the fourth semester.
The major goals of the project include: 1) Improve Engineering learning and learning environments: improve the knowledge base for defining, identifying, and innovating effective undergraduate engineering education using evidence-based resources and pedagogies; 2) Broaden participation for Engineering learning: increase the number of students recruited and retained in the Engineering program; 3) Build the professional Engineering workforce for future: improve the preparation of undergraduates so they succeed as productive members of the future engineering workforce and be engaged in STEM-literate society. To achieve the goals, the CET has taken the following measures over the last two years: 1) Re-envision and redesign the freshman level Engineering Physics and Math courses and curriculum to facilitate accelerated Math and Science remediation. This include development of total five Engineering Math and Physics courses in proper sequence following contextualized delivery, active learning approach, and student support structure such as peer tutoring and mentoring; 2) Providing upper-division students with paid Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) and also peer-tutoring/mentoring opportunities ; 3) Preparing Engineering students for future workforce through on-job trainings by providing internship opportunities. The project focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of active versus theoretical learning in early Engineering Physics and Math classes among Engineering majors.
The paper describes the specifics of the project implementation; including the curriculum changes along with the sequence adopted, content delivery methods, the student support structure, etc. It also discusses the specific outcomes and effectiveness of the project so far in relation to the project goals, such as student enrollment, retention, performance, persistence, and also, student engagement in research and workforce trainings.
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