Undergraduate academic experience for first-year engineering students through a summer bridge program
Research shows that first-time freshmen in general and first-generation college students in particular who are underprepared in mathematics struggle to achieve academic success in engineering programs. Data also indicate that minority students are overrepresented in this group of underprepared students. Across the US, many efforts have been undertaken to help improve all of the college students' academic experiences and engineering retention. For many years, the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University has focused on initiatives that enhance the academic experiences of freshmen. One of these initiatives, the Learning to Excel in Engineering through Preparation (LEEP) Program, intends to improve students' academic readiness and thus, retention in engineering, especially for students from underrepresented groups. In this paper, characteristics of the LEEP program and lessons learned over four years are described. Currently, LEEP is a summer program consisting of three (3) credit-bearing courses focusing on mathematics, physics and engineering study skills. In addition to coursework, participants engage in community-building activities with their peers, upper class students, and university faculty and staff. Math SAT (SATM) (or ACT ([ACTM]) scores provide a readily available indicator of students who are likely to be underprepared for the freshman-year engineering curriculum. Based on this indicator, engineering students are invited to participate in LEEP the summer before they enroll in the fall. Fifty-five and 59% percent of the students who participated in the 2010 LEEP program were first-generation and/or URM college students, repectively. LEEP was first piloted in Summer 2007 and has been offered each summer since. This study reviews four cohorts of first-year students who participated in LEEP between 2007 and 2010. Assessment data includes participants' demographics and their mathematics and physics achievement over the course of the program. The overarching goal of this paper is to share with the engineering community results of LEEP and its positive influence on success of engineering students. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.
author list (cited authors)
Hodge, J. Q., Hobson, M., Yalvac, B., Lagoudas, M. Z., Froyd, J. E., Ostrovskaya, N., Erukhimova, T., & Malave, C. O.