MSU STRATEGIC INVESTMENT PROPOSAL FOR INSTITUTIONAL PRIORITIES
PROPOSAL OVERVIEW
TitleCollege of Engineering Student Success Center Request Date2012-11-29
DepartmentChemical and Biological Engineering, Civil Engineering (Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology), Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (and Mechanical Engineering Technology) Emailcforeman@montana.edu
RequestorChristine Foreman Phone406-994-2272
INSTITUTIONAL BENEFIT
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts Chemical and Biological Engineering, Civil Engineering (Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology), Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (and Mechanical Engineering Technology)
TIMEFRAME
Proposed Dates Start: 1 April 2013 End:  
PROPOSAL SUMMARY
The College of Engineering (COE) proposes a Student Success Center (SSC) that will provide targeted advising for 1st-year students and offer Supplemental Instruction (SI) for barrier courses in the 1st and 2nd years. The SSC will be directed by a professional; however, a peer mentoring program would be developed to serve 1st-year students. SI for barrier classes will be provided by engineering graduate students. Additional GTAs would be assigned to faculty using active learning in courses with growing enrollments. The COE expects that the SSC will increase retention of 1st and 2nd year students as well as the 6-year graduation rate.
STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT
The COE Student Success Center aligns with the following MSU Strategic Plan Objectives:
L.2. Increase graduation rates at MSU
D.3. Expand the scale, breadth and quality of doctoral education
E.3. MSU students, faculty and staff will have increased opportunities for leadership development
A.1. Educate more students while maintaining the quality of programs
A.2. Diversify the student body
COST AND REQUIREMENTS
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       174000      3.5 
Benefits       15020       
Materials & Supplies              
Travel         3000     
Contracted Services              
Capital              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 189020  3000    3.5 
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

Cost and Requirements

                                                              Base                                                  FTE

Salaries                                                           

    Professional Staff                          $45,000                                                1.0

        Benefits                                      $14,400

    New GTA lines                              $75,000 ($15,000 x 5 GTAs)                     0 .5

        Benefits                                           $473

    Supplemental Support for

        Current GTAs ($6,000 x 6)        $36,000

        Benefits                                             $27

    Undergraduate students

        60 hrs/week x 30 weeks

        @$10.00/hour                            $18,000

        Benefits                                           $120

Supplemental Instruction Training

        In Missouri for Prof. Staff           $3,000

 

Total                                                 $192,020

An adequate GTA salary is required to recruit quality Ph.D. students to a teaching-related position rather than a research position.  The salary will make MSU more attractive to excellent graduate students who are considering several institutions for their graduate work.  In addition, the fully-funded GTA positions will provide an avenue for bridge funding for Ph.D. students who are between research grants.

PROPOSAL SCOPE
Describe the Proposal

Proposal Scope

The College of Engineering (COE) proposes a Student Success Center (SSC) that will provide targeted advising and mentoring for first-year students and Supplemental Instruction (SI) for barrier courses in both the first and second year.  The SSC will be directed by a full-time professional adviser; however, a peer mentoring program, shown to be successful in other engineering programs[1], would be developed to serve first-year students.  SI for barrier classes will be provided by engineering graduate students.  The COE expects that the activities developed by the SSC will increase retention of first- and second-year students and increase the six-year graduation rate. The SSC would also allow faculty to spend more time advising juniors and seniors and would allow faculty to continue to use innovative active learning instructional approaches in courses with growing enrollments.

The goal of the College of Engineering’s proposed Student Success Center is to improve the level of engineering student success, particularly in the first two years.  In order to achieve this goal, the SSC will focus on four main objectives:

  • Successful advising and mentoring of a rapidly growing student enrollment, particularly at the first year.
  • Improved level of successful completion of freshman and sophomore barrier courses.  The goal is to improve fall-to-fall freshman retention from 77% to 82% (students still at MSU, not necessarily in an engineering major).
  • By 2019, improve six-year graduation rate for engineering students from 57% to 65%.
  • Maintenance and growth of faculty innovative teaching methods (active learning) in classes that have swollen from, for example, 40 to 80 students.

Additionally, the SSC could serve as a central facility that faculty could use for proctored make-up exams and exams for special-needs students.  The SSC should also stimulate and offer a “home” for other student success programs within the COE.

 The plan for how the SCC will address the above goal and objectives is detailed below.

 First-Year Advising and Mentoring

The total undergraduate enrollment in the COE has increased from 1,952 students in fall of 2009 to 2,581 students in fall of 2012:  an increase of over 25%.  The entering freshman class has increased from 399 in 2009 to 583 in 2012:  an increase of nearly 50%.  Many faculty now advise over 70 students, and class sizes in some departments have more than doubled.  The increased enrollment is felt disproportionately at the freshman level, and these students need targeted advising in order to retain them either in engineering or in another major at MSU.  For the freshman students, advising issues are unique.  Many students enter engineering knowing they want to study engineering, but not knowing which particular engineering discipline is right for them (the COE includes 10 undergraduate programs).  And, many students enter the COE without the necessary math background to begin calculus, which extends the time that these students must wait before they become affiliated with a particular program and can take advantage of the sense of community afforded by that affiliation.  A sense of community has been shown to be a deciding factor in influencing students’ decisions about whether to stay or leave an engineering academic program.[2],[3],[4],[5]

 The COE’s Student Success Center will address the advising needed by the growing number of freshman students:  helping them decide which engineering discipline is right for them, pointing students to advisers in programs when appropriate, and offering programs that will give students who are not calculus ready a community of students in the same situation.  This sense of community has been shown to be important in retaining students in engineering (and in other majors), and is particularly important in regard to retaining and ensuring the success of under-represented minorities and women in engineering.[6],[7]

 The sense of community for first-year students will be enhanced by developing and offering a peer mentoring program, which would connect junior and senior-level students with first-year students.  This peer mentoring program will connect a group of 20 to 25 first-year students with an upper-division engineering student who would communicate with them regularly, encourage them to attend MSU events and other social activities as a group, connect them with MSU resources (MSU Office of Student Success, ChampChange, SmartyCats Tutoring), and informally advise them on strategies for success in engineering.  A pilot peer-mentoring program for women in mechanical engineering appears to have had a positive effect on retention of that group.  The SSC’s peer mentoring program will benefit the peer mentors by offering the participating junior and senior-level engineering students an opportunity for professional development and leadership.  In regard to first-year women in engineering, The SSC would work with current COE programs for women as well as the ADVANCE efforts to adopt best practices in retaining women.

Barrier Course Successful Completion

A major goal for the Student Success Center would be to increase the successful completion of barrier courses.  The reasons behind student DFW rates in some courses are complex, often a combined result of the difficulty of the material, the instructional methods, and the size of the course.  Most of the barrier courses in the COE are growing in enrollment, which adds to the instructional challenges.

 The COE intends to improve successful completion of these courses by performing a review of all barrier courses, offering appropriate instructional development opportunities and consultation in collaboration with MSU’s Center for Faculty Excellence, and developing a sustained Supplemental Instruction program for students in the courses.

 Students hoping to study engineering often run into problems in barrier courses common to many of the engineering majors, as well as program-specific barrier courses.  If students withdraw from or fail in these courses, their progress toward their degree is slowed considerably because of prerequisite requirements.  And, again, their affiliation with a program (and the resultant sense of community) is delayed.  Barrier courses and DFW rates are shown in Table 1 below:

 Table 1. Courses with Large (50+) Enrollments and High (25%+) Proportion of D/F/W Grades

 
 

Fall 2010

Spring 2011

Fall 2011

Spring 2012

Course

Enrolled

%DFW

Enrolled

%DFW

Enrolled

%DFW

Enrolled

%DFW

CE 201, Surveying

61

28%

 

 

65

28%

 

 

CSCI 111, Programming with Java I

153

29%

109

35%

165

27%

114

41%

CSCI 112, Programming with C I

 

 

73

32%

 

 

95

25%

CSCI 132, Basic Data Structures/Algorithms

 

 

75

36%

 

 

86

26%

EELE 201, Circuits I for Engineering

50

42%

 

 

 

 

 

 

EELE 250, Circuits, Devices & Motors

82

28%

 

 

 

 

 

 

EGEN 115, Engineering Graphics

147

38%

 

 

 

 

57

35%

EGEN 116, Engineering Graphics Lab

104

39%

95

43%

121

37%

102

31%

EGEN 118, ME Design Graphics Lab

 

 

90

33%

 

 

 

 

EGEN 202, Engineering Mechanics-Dynamics

 

 

 

 

89

36%

 

 

EGEN 203, Applied Mechanics

79

38%

61

46%

62

52%

63

48%

EGEN 205, Mechanics of Materials

 

 

 

 

 

 

91

44%

EGEN 201, Engineering Mechanics--Statics

127

28%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  Office of Planning and Analysis, OCHE Courses Database

 

One particularly difficult series for students in all engineering programs (not only MSU) is the Engineering Mechanics series (EGEN 201, 202, 203, 205, 208), which is required by the majority of degree programs in the COE.  Over the past four years, enrollment in these courses combined has increased from 757 students to 1,036 students, and the average DFW rate is about 29%.

The Student Success Center would provide Supplemental Instruction for these barrier courses.  Supplemental Instruction courses will not only help students academically but will also build a cohort among students and will lend to the sense of community for at-risk students. 

What is Supplemental Instruction?  Supplemental Instruction (SI) was developed by Dr. Deanna Martin at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  SI is a voluntary academic support program attached to science and mathematics courses that have particularly high attrition rates:  courses with high DFW rates. The program attempts to improve student performance in traditionally difficult courses by providing regularly scheduled out-of-class study session facilitated by an SI leader. The SI leader guides the students through course material by facilitating group discussion on important concepts; helping students develop appropriate learning strategies and study skills; helping students with problem solving methodology; and actively engaging students in learning. SI is proactive and promotes active learning rather than being reactive and passive.  SI also provides opportunities for students to form their own study groups.

The effect of barrier courses is striking for engineering students.  For example, in Electrical and Computer Engineering, the introductory electrical engineering course is EELE101. This course is one prerequisite for the introductory circuits course (EELE 201: Circuits I) the other being Calculus II. This sequence continues with Circuits II (EELE 203) and finally Electronics, each being a prerequisite for the following course. Students are asked to take these courses as a series.

Figure 1 shows the enrollment progression as students advance through the circuits-electronics sequence. This data is representative of what typically happens to the class of entering electrical engineering and computer engineering freshman. The department starts with a relatively large number of entering freshmen and that number declines through the sophomore year and then from there becomes effectively steady through graduation. Students who pass electronics typically graduate in three to four semesters from that benchmark.

Circuits-Electronics Sequence Enrollment

 

Figure 1. Class enrollment progression through ECE sequence courses

A similar story regarding the impact of barrier courses on student retention can be found in Mechanical Engineering (see Figure 2).  In the Mechanical Engineering program, the mechanics courses EGEN 201, 202 and 205 (see Table 1) are sophomore courses that are taken at the same time as EMEC 202, and these mechanics courses are pre-requisites for the junior courses.  Figure 2 clearly shows that enrollment in the program begins with a relatively large number of entering freshmen, but many of those students do not make it beyond the sophomore year.  If they do make it beyond the sophomore barrier courses, they are retained and enrollment is steady through graduation. 

 

 

 Figure 2. Class enrollment progression through ME sequence courses

Similar stories are evident in other engineering programs in the college.  Retention could be improved by targeting the barrier freshman and sophomore classes throughout the college with the use of Supplemental Instruction.

Supplemental Instruction courses would be taught primarily by engineering graduate students (possibly qualified upper-level undergraduates).  SI instructors would attend the class sessions for which they are providing SI coursework, hold SI sessions with students, and hold office hours in the Student Success Center.  Student Success Center professional staff will attend training at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, to become more familiar with the SI model and will be responsible for training the local SI instructors

Much data has been collected on the success of SI courses across various curricula.  For example, a 2007 report on Supplemental Instruction at Utah State University showed that SI attendance in freshmen-level courses had a statistically significant influence on graduation success: “Indeed, SI attendance, everything else held constant, increases the probability of timely graduation by approximately 11%.”[8]  Supplemental Instruction also has proven success in sophomore-level engineering classes at other institutions.[9]

SI has had proven success at MSU.  In 2010, on a list of 24 retention initiatives presented to the MSU University Planning and Budget Committee, Supplemental Instruction for expansion of the COE’s PASS program (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) was listed first.  The COE’s SI PASS program was funded from 2008 through 2011 via an NSF S-STEM grant to the COE’s Designing our Community program, and the college has six semesters of solid data showing the effectiveness of the program.

For example, in Spring 2011, Designing Our Community (DOC) offered a SI PASS course for Math 172 (Calculus II).  Nine students responded to a web survey about their PASS experience for Math 172 (it should be noted that the students who were in the PASS course for Math 172 were targeted as at-risk students).  Four of these students responded that they had attended 4 to 6 sessions; 1 attended 7 to 10 sessions; 3 attended 11 to 14 sessions; and 1 attended 15 to 17 sessions.  Going into the final exam, three of the students expected a grade in the “B” range; 5 expected a grade in the “C” range, and 1 expected not to pass the course.  All 9 respondents either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that they would receive a higher grade as a result of their participation in PASS.  Seven of the respondents either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that their study skills improved because of PASS (2 were neutral).  Seven also either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that their performance in future courses would be improved by their PASS experience (2 were neutral).  All nine respondents either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that their PASS leader was very effective in helping them learn the course content.

In Chemical and Biological Engineering, enrollment in ECHM 215 has grown from 45 to 140 students in the past 3 years.  PASS SI instruction in 2011-12 (provided by one of their TA lines) was important in lowering DFW rates.  For ECHM 321 (Fluids), which has also seen significant growth, students who participated in the SI PASS course in spring 2010 (via retention funding) were invited to respond to a survey about their experience with the PASS course.  Thirty-two students responded.  When asked what grade they expected in ECHM 321, the largest proportion (41% or 13 students) said that they expected a “B.”  Eleven students expected a “C,” and seven expected an “A.”  Only one student expected a “D” and none expected to fail.

In Electrical and Computer engineering, a Provost’s Retention grant helped implement supplemental instruction (SI) in EELE 201 – Circuits 1, considered a “high-risk” course due to the large percentage of students failing the course (less than C-) or withdrawing, in the Fall of 2011. Hour-long SI sessions were offered twice per week during the fall semester. In an end-of-course survey, students were asked several Likert-style questions about the SI. When asked how many SI sessions they attended, the bulk (19 students or 66% of those responding to the question) of the students responded that they had attended one to four. Eight students (28%) remembered attending five to ten sessions, and two students attended more than 15. The total course enrollment was 50, so 38% attended at least one SI session.  When asked if they thought they would receive a higher grade in the course because of the SI, ten students responded Agree or Strongly Agree, whereas only four responded Disagree or Strongly Disagree. When asked if they thought that involvement in the SI sessions would improve their performance in future courses, eight responded Agree or Strongly Agree, whereas only three responded Disagree or Strongly Disagree.

Figure 3 below (course grade vs. SI attendance data available upon request; unfortunately the online proposal submission procedure could not correctly convert the original figure included in this proposal) shows one aspect of SI effectiveness for several courses at MSU:  the attendance for SI PASS Sessions in relation to course grade. The data shows an increase in students' grades associated with the number of SI PASS sessions that they attended. This trend was consistent across a range of courses (Math 181 F'08; Math 181 Spr'09; Math 182, Physics 211 and Chemistry 131).

Support for Faculty to Keep Using or Start Using Active Learning in Larger Classes

Many COE faculty have implemented various active learning and inquiry-based learning approaches in their classrooms, including some barrier courses.  However, these approaches require more instructional support for the growing class sizes (see Figure 2 for data relating to ME enrollment growth).  For example, Professor Jim Becker, in ECE, received a grant to implement inquiry-based learning in his EELE 201 Circuits course, which is a barrier course.  Support for a GTA to support the group activities in the 65-student course was provided by NSF for two years, and continued support for this course would be provided by the Student Success Center.  In Mechanical Engineering, Professor Sarah Codd has developed many innovative teaching approaches to engage students in her EMEC320 Thermodynamics course.  She uses peer-assisted learning and jigsaw[1] approaches that ensure each class is an active learning environment. These methods were implemented when the class was less than 40 students. The enrollment in that course has increased from 40 students to 85 students in the last three years, and she now needs qualified GTA support to continue these successful instructional approaches.  The Student Success Center could provide that support. The Student Success Center will also facilitate mentoring of other instructors who are also interested in implementing active learning in the classroom.  This will be accomplished with workshops and mentoring being offered by the faculty who have already accomplished this transition in large classes, and implementation will be enabled by increased GTA availability for this purpose.

No one argues with the importance of engaging students in the classroom with active learning approaches, and the level of student engagement also contributes to keeping students on track to graduate in a timely manner.  Students in active learning environments also are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, develop an enhanced sense of competency, are more socially related to other students, and are more autonomous.



[1] Hanze, M. and Berger, R., “Cooperative Learning, Motivational Effects, and Student Characteristics:  An Experimental Study Comparing Cooperative Learning and Direct Instruction in 12th Grade Physics Classes,”  Learning and Instruction, 17, 2007, pp. 29-41.

[2] Marra, R., Rodgers, K., Shen, D., and Bogue, B., “Leaving Engineering:  A Multi-Year Single Institution Study,” Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 6-27.  January 2006.

[3] Hartman, H. and Hartman, M., “Leaving Engineering:  Lessons from Rowan University’s College of Engineering,” Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 95, No. 1, pp. 49-62, January 2006.

[4] Pendergrass, N.A., Kowalczyk, R.E., Dowd, J.P., Laoulache, R.N., Nelles, W., Golen, J.A., and Fowler, E., “Improving First-Year Engineering Education,” Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 90, No. 1, pp. 33-42, January 2001.

[5] Seymour, E. and Hewitt, N.M., Talking about LeavingWhy Undergraduates Leave the Sciences, Colorado:  Westview Press.  1997.

[6] Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M., Issues of Race and Ethnicity. Talking About Leaving. Boulder: Westview Press. 1997.

[7] Marra, R., Rodgers, K., Shen, D., and Bogue, B., “Leaving Engineering:  A Multi-Year Single Institution Study,” Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 6-27.

[8] Bowles, Tyler J., McCoy, Adam C., and Bates, S., “The Effect of Supplemental Instruction on Timely Graduation,” College Student Journal 42(3), September 2008, accessed online 11-5-2012 at http://www.questia.com/library/1G1-182975279/the-effect-of-supplemental-instruction-on-ti 

Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

Broader impacts and benefits

  • Increased fall-to-fall retention of first-year and second-year students, both in engineering and at MSU.
  • Increased six-year graduation rate of engineering students.
  • Increased success in barrier courses in both first- and second-year courses.
  • Increased opportunities for leadership for junior- and seniors in engineering by mentoring first- and second-year students.
  • Increased sense of community for COE students, particularly those who have not decided on a specific engineering discipline.
  • Increased opportunities for professional development for Ph.D. students chosen to work with the SSC.
  • Increased support for the growth of the engineering Ph.D. programs by providing competitive positions for bridge funding and for recruiting first-year Ph.D. students.
  • Increased interest in MSU as a place to receive a well-rounded education at the Ph.D. level.
  • Increased time for faculty to advise junior and senior students.
  • Increase opportunities for faculty to implement (or continue) active learning strategies in the classroom with larger enrollments.

 

 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Implementation Plan

Implementation Plan (with timelines)

 A faculty member in each COE department will be designated as the Student Success Faculty Coordinator.  This faculty member will work directly with the Student Success Center Director to ensure that the departmental needs of both students and faculty are being met.  Engaging faculty in the activities of the Student Success Center will help to build faculty buy-in across the college, and will also improve communication and coordination between the SSC and the various engineering departments.  The Student Success Faculty Coordinators, along with the Student Success Center Director, will comprise the COE’s Student Success Advisory Committee, which will be chaired by the Associate Dean for Student Success.  The COE’s Director of Educational Innovation and Strategic Projects would also sit on the committee.

The various activities under the Student Success Center (SSC) umbrella will begin late spring semester 2013 with a review of the barrier courses and accompanying recommendations for either enhanced instructional strategies, Supplemental Instruction, or both.  This review will be conducted by the Student Success Advisory Committee.  The barrier courses will be prioritized so that GTA resources will be directed first to those courses that would benefit the most.  This barrier course review will begin spring semester 2013 and continue through the summer of 2013.

In parallel, the COE will conduct a search for the Student Success Center Director, who would immediately upon starting work complete the Supplemental Instruction training in Missouri and develop the structure and activities for the Peer Mentoring program. 

In the fall of 2013, the SSC will hire and train the first wave of GTA Supplemental Instruction leaders, chosen from a combination of continuing and newly recruited Ph.D. students.  Each of these GTA’s will provide Supplemental Instruction for two barrier courses in the fall of 2013 for their 0.5 FTE appointment. 

Also in the fall of 2013, the first group of upper-division undergraduate engineering peer mentors will be chosen, hired, and trained.

Assessment of need for assistance in implementing or maintaining active learning approaches in classes that have grown beyond 40 students will begin in Fall 2013.  Faculty will apply to the Student Success Advisory Committee for GTA support and will be directed to MSU’s Center for Faculty Excellence, when appropriate, for instructional development support.

Table 2 below shows the implementation time line.

 Table 2.  Implementation Time Line for College of Engineering Student Success Center

Semester

Activity

Spring 2013

  • Student Success Advisory Committee reviews barrier courses to determine priorities for Supplemental Instruction and/or applying best instructional practices.
  • Conduct search for professional staff Student Success Center Director.

Summer 2013

  • Complete review of barrier courses.
  • Collect baseline data regarding DFW rates in barrier courses, fall-to-fall retention of first-year and second-year engineering students.
  • Develop peer mentoring program.

Fall 2013

  • Recruit upper-division engineering students for peer mentoring program and implement program.
  • Collect survey data from mentees and peer mentors regarding success of peer mentoring program.
  • Hire first wave of GTA’s for Supplemental Instruction in barrier courses.
  • Collect data from Supplemental Instruction:  attendance, grades, student perception surveys.
  • Collect baseline fall-to-fall retention data for both freshman and sophomore engineering students.

Spring 2014

  • Fully implement Supplemental Instruction in barrier courses.
  • Provide GTA support for select courses implementing Best Practices in Active Learning (from applications/requests to Student Success Advisory Committee).
  • Collect survey data from mentees and peer mentors regarding success of peer mentoring program.
  • Collect data from Supplemental Instruction:  attendance, grades, student perception surveys.

Summer 2014

  • Review data from Peer Mentoring program and Supplemental Instruction and report to the Student Success Advisory Committee for recommendations for changes to programs.
  • Student Success Advisory Committee reviews DFW rates in courses that have had Supplemental Instruction and makes decisions about where to focus SI in Fall 2014.

Fall 2014

  • Collect fall-to-fall freshman and sophomore retention data and report to Student Success Advisory Committee.
  • Collect survey data from mentees and peer mentors regarding success of peer mentoring program.
  • Collect data from Supplemental Instruction:  attendance, grades, student perception surveys.
  • Provide GTA support for select courses implementing Best Practices in Active Learning (from applications/requests to Student Success Advisory Committee).

Spring 2015

  • Collect survey data from mentees and peer mentors regarding success of peer mentoring program.
  • Collect data from Supplemental Instruction:  attendance, grades, student perception surveys.
  • Provide GTA support for select courses implementing Best Practices in Active Learning (from applications/requests to Student Success Advisory

Summer 2015

  • Full review of all Student Success Center activities to determine if goals have been met.

Fall 2015 through Spring Fall 2018

  • Continue collecting assessment data for Student Success Center programs, continue to review that data and make appropriate changes to meet targeted retention and graduation rates.
 
Assessment Plan

Assessment of the various activities of the Student Success Center will be conducted by Dr. Carolyn Plumb, in concert with the Student Success Advisory Committee.  Dr. Plumb is the Director of Educational Innovation and Strategic Projects in the College of Engineering.  She works on various curriculum and instruction projects including instructional development for faculty and graduate students.  She also serves as the college’s assessment and evaluation expert, and is currently planning and implementing assessment and evaluation for programs funded by NIH, NSF, and other external funding agencies and foundations.   She has over 15 years of experience in assessment and evaluation in engineering education.  Dr. Plumb will develop and plan the assessment activities, collect assessment data, and report results to the Student Success Advisory Committee.  The committee will be responsible for making decisions regarding programmatic changes resulting from assessment data.

The goal of the College of Engineering’s proposed Student Success Center is to improve the level of engineering student success, particularly in the first two years.  In order to achieve this goal, the SSC will focus on four main objectives:

  • Successful advising and mentoring of a rapidly growing student enrollment, particularly at the first year.
  • Improved level of successful completion of freshman and sophomore barrier courses.  The goal is to improve fall-to-fall freshman retention from 77% to 82% (students still at MSU, not necessarily in an engineering major).
  • By 2019, improve six-year graduation rate for engineering students from 57% to 65%.
  • Maintenance and growth of faculty innovative teaching methods (active learning) in classrooms that have swollen from, for example, 40 to 80 students.

Additionally, the SSC could serve as a central facility faculty could use for proctored make-up exams and exams for special-needs students.

Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected to determine progress toward the above objectives.

The Assessment Plan is detailed in the table below.

Table 3.  Assessment Plan for Student Success Center

Objective

Assessment Method(s)

Timing

Successfully advise and mentor first-year students

  • Peer mentor and mentee surveys

 

  • Add advising/mentoring related question(s) to MSU Senior Survey
  • Every semester

 

 

  • Every Academic Year

 

Improve fall-to-fall freshman retention from 77% to 82% (students still at MSU)

 

Improved level of successful completion of barrier courses

 

  • Collect data from MSU’s Office of Planning and Analysis

 

  • Collect data from MSU’s Office of Planning and Analysis
  • Every Fall semester

 

 

  • Every semester

 

Improve six-year graduation rate for engineering students from 57% to 65%

  • Collect data from MSU’s Office of Planning and Analysis
  • Every Fall semester
 

Maintain and grow faculty innovative teaching methods (active learning) in larger classes

  • Add related question to Faculty Activity Database
  • Every Spring semester
 

 

 
If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

The COE has had proven success with Supplemental Instruction, and we believe that a sustained effort in this area will, indeed, make a difference in student success.  However, after five years, if we have not met or nearly met our objectives, the COE will revert back to full advising/mentoring at the department level, phase out the SSC Director’s position, as well as any unsuccessful SI efforts, and distribute TA lines to the individual departments with the greatest instructional need. 

 

 
SIGNATURES
Dean/Director: Brett Gunnink (bgunnink@ce.montana.edu)
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (mpotvin@montana.edu)