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Engineering Learning Communities – USA National Survey 2012
2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition (2013)
  • Jess W. Everett, Rowan University
  • Maggie A Flynn
The purpose of this study was to identify and describe Engineering Learning Communities (ELC) at US four-year institutions in 2012. ELCs were identified at 149 out of 356 US institutions with engineering majors. Information was obtained from 76 ELC coordinators, a response rate of 51 %. Most ELCs were targeted at the general engineering population; however, significant numbers were targeted at women, minority students, students in specific engineering majors, or some combination. Almost all ELCs accept freshman year students. Smaller percentages accept sophomores, juniors, and/or seniors. ELC size ranged from 8 to 1000, with a mean of 146 and median of 60. Over 70 % of ELCs have students live on campus in a single residence hall,further fostering community. More than 70 % of ELCs also have students take one or more common class. Tutoring/mentoring was the activity ELC student participated in the most hours per semester or quarter, followed by academic coaching and social events. Among example goals provided in the survey, building peer relationships was selected by nearly every respondent. Improving academic success, increasing retention, increasing connection to campus, and helping with the transition to college were all selected by more than 80 % of the respondents. The most commonly used evaluation methods used were retention, surveys, and GPA. Surveys are the only commonly employed technique that can provide feedback concerning program components and are better suited for directing program improvement efforts. Retention estimates--after one year in an ELC--ranged from 33 to 100 %, with a mean of 82.6 % and median of 85. Most ELCs had high retention rates and, thus, are likely increasing their institution’s 6-year graduation rate; however, the presence of 6 low retention programs indicates that ELCs are not a miracle cure. Scenarios exist where ELCs are not able to produce high retention.At least 90 % of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that ELC participants, upon completing of the program: had strong peer relationships, interacted with each other outside of class, were satisfied with their college experience, felt like a member of a community, were able to easily transition from high school to college, and studied together. Similarly, at least 90 % of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their ELC provided the tools needed to enhance student: study skills, adjustment to college, and knowledge of campus activities and resources. Analysis of the most common words used in responses to open ended questions indicated that community is a commonly perceived student benefit of ELCs. The benefit to the institutions hosting ELC is commonly perceived to be retention, recruitment, and community. The most commonly employed incentives to join ELCs are better housing, events, and tutoring. Only 37 coordinators provided budget information. Amounts varied widely, but many were rather low. Statistical comparisons were unable to identify any significant factors explaining retention variation among programs limited to freshmen. The common dorm was the only factor that was anywhere close to being significant (p = 0.118). Future research can focus on identifying effective program components, e.g., types of social events, ways to incorporate tutoring, advising and mentoring, housing situations. Relationships between budget, size, and effectiveness could also be explored. Finally, for those programs with budgets, expenditure categories could be identified.
Publication Date
June 23, 2013
Atlanta, Georgia
Citation Information
Jess W. Everett and Maggie A Flynn. "Engineering Learning Communities – USA National Survey 2012" 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition (2013)
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