A recent S-STEM award has allowed the engineering program in a rural, liberal arts institution to offer a need-based scholarship program for its students. The engineering program has a number of veteran, underrepresented minority, transfer, and nontraditional students. Many students are also first-generation college students. The institution and engineering program matriculate a number of under-served populations, students who may have needs that are not well understood in the typical engineering education literature. The scholarship program and its associated mentoring and activities will assist workforce development and will also incorporate a number of research avenues to better understand and serve the student population in this unique setting. To apply for the program, students must fill out an application with four 250 – 500 word essay responses relating to their academic progress, perceived barriers to degree completion, and how this award would help them to complete their degree.
This initial study seeks to analyze the student applications to explore which students are applying for the new scholarship program and which students are successful in their applications. Responses to the application questions will be analyzed to develop an archetypical applicant, an archetypical successful applicant, and an archetypical unsuccessful applicant. Similar to the IDEO method of creating a specific client to design for, these profiles will not encompass all possible student responses; not all students who would be grouped with the archetype would see themselves in the archetype. Rather, these archetypes will help us to define students that we can use as a model when we are developing programs for the students in the scholarship program and the student body as a whole. These profiles will be presented and used to generate an understanding of which students are likely to choose to apply and which students may be missing out on this opportunity. At this time, the applications are not yet due and the analysis has not yet begun. Initial interest for the grant has been strong and we anticipate at least thirty applications for the nineteen available grants. Results presented will include the three student profiles as well as a report of the perceived barriers to graduation as reported by applicants in their application materials.
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