2022 First-Year Engineering Experience

WIP: Effectiveness of Recruitment Strategies for Underrepresented Groups in an Engineering Bridge Program

Presented at Technical Session M1

The Academy of Engineering Success (AcES) program at *** University is an integrated supplemental academic success and professional development program, consisting of a week of activities prior to the fall semester (summer bridge program) and a semester-long professional development course in the fall. The program is specifically designed for first-year engineering students who are non-calculus ready, as an effort to promote the retention of these students in engineering. Some need-based scholarships were awarded with the intention of recruiting and retaining a larger number of underrepresented students (female, minorities, first-generation, and low-income). *** University is a predominantly white institution (PWI) where first-time freshmen engineering students are 80% of white non-Hispanic origin (Fall 2021 cohort).

In the academic year 2021 (AY21), the AcES program encountered challenges in recruiting underrepresented students. After two months of marketing the program, there was no first-generation, no low-income, and only one minority student that had signed up. Based on literature and recruitment results from the Energy Land Management (ELM) program at *** University, we learned that early intervention activities in K-12 and targeted marketing are important for the recruitment of underrepresented groups as well as that some recruitment methods are not as effective when recruiting underrepresented students. The AcES program then adopted an inclusive targeted marketing strategy. After this intervention, AcES program's student body was more diverse, resulting in 20% first-generation, 30% low-income, 30% female, and 20% underrepresented minorities (URM) in the enrollment.

This work-in-progress research aims to (1) analyze the past enrollment data in AcES program before and after applying this inclusive recruitment strategy, (2) conduct surveys to understand the reasons for the effectiveness of different recruitment strategies in diversifying the cohort, and (3) devise a plan at different levels to enhance the recruitment of engineering student from diverse background, particularly the underrepresented populations in the future.

  1. Dr. Xinyu Zhang West Virginia University [biography]
  2. Dr. Lizzie Santiago West Virginia University [biography]
  3. Stefanie Paige Hines West Virginia University [biography]
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