Toys and mathematical options for retention in engineering (toys'n MORE) intermediate outcomes for STEM students who participated in math tutoring, a toy-based freshman engineering design course, or a summer bridge program

Catherine L. Cohan, Alexander Yin, Amy Freeman, Javier Gomez-Calderon, Janice M. Margle, Jill L. Lane, Dhushy Sathianathan, Renata S. Engel

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

With support from the NSF STEP program, the Toys'n MORE project is conducting three interventions at regional campuses in the Penn State system to increase the proportion of STEM students by 10 percent, especially in engineering. This paper presents the results of three years of data collection. We are in the midst of the fifth year of the grant and the fourth year of data collection. Thus, the results presented here are preliminary but encouraging. First, we found students with lower math aptitude were more likely to enroll in the math tutoring class. However, the math tutoring class had no effect on math course grades. One possibility is that the math tutoring class raised the grades of students with lower math aptitude to the level of students with higher math aptitude who were not enrolled in the math tutoring course. In that case, the mean grades of the two groups should look similar and should not be statistically different. We are investigating that possibility. The cumulative GPAs of students enrolled in the 1-credit math tutoring class were statistically higher than that of students not enrolled in the math tutoring class. We do not think the boost to GPA was the result of higher math course grades in Algebra II, Trigonometry, or Calculus I. We have yet to examine how long the boost to GPA lasts. Second, we examined retention in engineering for three cohorts of students who enrolled in a freshman design course with either the toy-design curriculum or the standard curriculum. This intervention showed a net increase in retention in engineering for students who enrolled in the freshman design class with the toy design curriculum. There was a net loss of students out of engineering for those enrolled in the freshman design class based on the standard curriculum. Third, preliminary evidence suggests the new math-intensive summer bridge programs at the regional campuses may increase retention in engineering for incoming underrepresented students interested in majoring in engineering. We will continue to track students exposed to the Toys'n MORE interventions, focusing on objective outcome measures such as actual enrollment in a STEM major and graduation rates, in order to discover which aspects of the project should be sustained by the university. We are grateful to the NSF for supporting this research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Sep 24 2013
Event120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2013Jun 26 2013

Other

Other120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA
Period6/23/136/26/13

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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