skip to main content

Title: Strategies for Developing, Expanding, and Strengthening Community College Engineering Transfer Programs
Broadening participation in engineering among underrepresented minority students remains a big challenge for institutions of higher education. Since a large majority of underrepresented students attend community colleges, engineering transfer programs at these community colleges can play an important role in addressing this challenge. However, for most community college engineering programs, developing strategies and programs to increase the number and diversity of students successfully pursuing careers in engineering is especially challenging due to limited expertise, shrinking resources, and continuing budget crises. This paper is a description of how a small engineering transfer program at a Hispanic-Serving community college in California developed effective partnerships with high schools, other institutions of higher education, and industry partners in order to create opportunities for underrepresented community college students to excel in engineering. Developed through these partnerships are programs for high school students, current community college students, and community college engineering faculty. Programs for high school students include a) the Summer Engineering Institute – a two-week residential summer camp for sophomore and junior high school students, and b) the STEM Institute – a three-week program for high school freshmen to explore STEM fields. Academic and support programs for college students include: a) Math Jam – a one-week more » intensive math placement test review and preparation program; b) a scholarship and mentoring program academically talented and financially needy STEM students; c) a two-week introduction to research program held during the winter break to prepare students for research internships; d) a ten-week summer research internship program; e) Physics Jam – an intensive program to prepare students for success in Physics; f) Embedded Peer Instruction Cohort – a modified Supplemental Instruction program for STEM courses; g) STEM Speaker Series – a weekly presentation by professionals talking about their career and educational paths. Programs for community college STEM faculty and transfer programs include: a) Summer Engineering Teaching Institute – a two-day teaching workshop for community college STEM faculty; b) Joint Engineering Program – a consortium of 28 community college engineering programs all over California to align curriculum, improve teaching effectiveness, improve the engineering transfer process, and strengthen community college engineering transfer programs; c) Creating Alternative Learning Strategies for Transfer Engineering Programs – a collaborative program that aims to increase access to engineering courses for community college students through online instruction and alternative classroom models; and d) California Lower-Division Engineering Articulation Workshop – to align the engineering curriculum. In addition to describing the development and implementation of these programs, the paper will also provide details on how they have contributed to increasing the interest, facilitating the entry, improving the retention and enhancing the success of underrepresented minority students in engineering, as well as contributing to the strengthening of the community college engineering education pipeline. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1430789
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10063235
Journal Name:
American Society for Engineering Education
Volume:
2018
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
https://peer.asee.org/30995
ISSN:
0092-4326
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The California Community College system has been very successful in providing affordable and accessible education to diverse student populations by allowing them to complete all of their lower-division course work and then transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. Recent developments, however, have threatened the viability of engineering programs in California community colleges, endangering this very important pipeline in the engineering educational system. The increasing divergence of the lower-division requirements among different four-year institutions and among the different fields of engineering, coupled with the recent State budget crisis has forced many community colleges to cancel low-enrollment classesmore »and high-cost programs including those in engineering. In response to this situation, Cañada College, a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution in the San Francisco Bay Area, has developed an innovative program entitled Online and Networked Education for Students in Transfer Engineering Programs (ONE-STEP). Funded by the National Science Foundation Engineering Education and Centers through the Innovation in Engineering Education and Curriculum, and Infrastructure (IEECI) program, ONE-STEP aims to improve community college engineering education through the use of Tablet-PC and wireless network technologies. The program includes a Summer Engineering Teaching Institute that will assist community college engineering faculty in developing a Tablet-PC-enhanced interactive model of engineering instruction, and implementing online courses using CCC Confer—a videoconferencing platform that is available free of charge to all faculty and staff of the California Community College system. ONE-STEP will also develop partnerships with community colleges currently without an engineering program to design and implement a Joint Engineering Program that is delivered through CCC Confer. The program has the potential to significantly increase the viability of engineering programs by increasing teaching efficiency and effectiveness with minimal additional costs.« less
  2. There has been a recent increase in awareness of the important role that community colleges play in educating future engineers, especially in broadening participation among students from underrepresented groups. However, budget problems at the state and national levels have resulted in continuing budget cuts in community colleges. With limited resources while responding to increasing variability of lower-division transfer curricula as required by four-year engineering programs, it has become increasingly difficult for small community college engineering programs to support all the courses needed by students to transfer. Meanwhile, transfer admissions have become increasingly more competitive because of budget cuts in four-yearmore »universities. As a result, prospective engineering students who attend community colleges with limited or no engineering course offerings are at a disadvantage for both transfer admission as well as time to completion upon transfer. This paper is a description of a collaborative project among community college engineering programs in California to address this problem by aligning engineering curriculum, enhancing teaching effectiveness using Tablet PCs, and increasing access to engineering courses through online education. The project includes a Summer Engineering Teaching Institute designed to assist community college engineering faculty in developing a Tablet-PC-enhanced model of instruction, and implementing online courses. The project also involves a partnership among California community college engineering programs to design and implement a Joint Engineering Program that is delivered online. This paper summarizes the results of the first two years of implementation of the project, and explores its potential to strengthen the community college engineering education pipeline in order to increase and diversify the engineering workforce.« less
  3. The California Community College system plays an important role in providing affordable and accessible education to diverse student populations by allowing them to complete all of their lower-division course work and then transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. However, the increasing divergence of the lower-division requirements among different four-year institutions and among the different fields of engineering, coupled with decreasing enrollments and resources, has forced many community colleges to cancel low-enrollment classes and high-cost programs including those in engineering. To address this issue, four community colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area developed an innovative programmore »titled Creating Alternative Learning Strategies for Transfer Engineering Programs (CALSTEP). Funded by the National Science Foundation through the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program, CALSTEP aims to enable small-to-medium community college engineering programs to support a comprehensive set of lower-division engineering courses that are delivered either completely online, or with limited face-to-face interactions. In addition to developing and implementing curriculum materials and resources for the core lower-division engineering courses, one of the main components of CALSTEP is disseminating the curriculum widely in California community college engineering programs. This is done through the Summer Engineering Teaching Institute, which is a two-day teaching workshop that introduces community college engineering faculty to the CALSTEP curriculum, and assists faculty in implementing the curriculum and developing alternative teaching and learning strategies to increase enrollment and improve teaching effectiveness. Results of curriculum development and the implementation of the Summer Engineering Teaching Institute will be highlighted in this paper, as well as future plans to maximize the impact of the program in increasing access to engineering education among thousands of community college engineering students and strengthening engineering transfer programs in the state.« less
  4. Access to lower-division engineering courses in the community college substantially influences whether or not community college students pursue and successfully achieve an engineering degree. With about 60% of students from under-represented minority (URM) groups beginning their post-secondary education in the community colleges, providing this access is critical if the US is to diversify and expand its engineering workforce. Still many community college lack the faculty, equipment, or local expertise to offer a comprehensive transfer engineering program, thus compromising participation in engineering courses for underrepresented groups as well as for students residing in rural and remote areas, where distance is amore »key barrier to post-secondary enrollment. An additional obstacle to participation is the need for so many community college students to work, many in inflexible positions that compromise their ability to attend traditional face-to-face courses. Through a grant from the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program (NSF IUSE), three community colleges from Northern California collaborated to increase the availability and accessibility of the engineering curriculum by developing resources and teaching strategies to enable small-to-medium community college engineering programs to support a comprehensive set of lower-division engineering courses that are delivered either completely online, or with limited face-to-face interactions. This paper focuses on the development and testing of the teaching and learning resources for Introduction to Engineering, a three-unit course (two units of lecture and one unit of lab). The course has special significance as a gateway course for students who without the role models that their middle class peers so often have readily available enter college with very limited awareness of the exciting projects and fulfilling careers the engineering profession offers as well as with apprehension about their ability to succeed in a demanding STEM curriculum. To this end, the course covers academic success skills in engineering including mindset and metacognition, academic pathways, career awareness and job functions in the engineering profession, team building and communications, the engineering design process, and a broad range of fundamental and engaging topics and projects in engineering including electronics, basic test equipment, programming in MATLAB and Arduino, robotics, bridge design, and materials science. The paper presents the results of a pilot implementation of the teaching materials in a regular face-to-face course which will be used to inform subsequent on-line delivery. Additionally, student surveys and interviews are used to assess students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the course resources, along with their sense of self-efficacy and identity as aspiring engineers.« less
  5. Community colleges provide an important pathway for many prospective engineering graduates, especially those from traditionally underrepresented groups. However, due to a lack of facilities, resources, student demand and/or local faculty expertise, the breadth and frequency of engineering course offerings is severely restricted at many community colleges. This in turn presents challenges for students trying to maximize their transfer eligibility and preparedness. Through a grant from the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program (NSF IUSE), three community colleges from Northern California collaborated to increase the availability and accessibility of a comprehensive lower-division engineering curriculum, even at small-to-medium sized communitymore »colleges. This was accomplished by developing resources and teaching strategies that could be employed in a variety of delivery formats (e.g., fully online, online/hybrid, flipped face-to-face, etc.), providing flexibility for local community colleges to leverage according to their individual needs. This paper focuses on the iterative development, testing, and refining of the resources for an introductory Materials Science course with 3-unit lecture and 1-unit laboratory components. This course is required as part of recently adopted statewide model associate degree curricula for transfer into Civil, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Manufacturing engineering bachelor’s degree programs at California State Universities. However, offering such a course is particularly challenging for many community colleges, because of a lack of adequate expertise and/or laboratory facilities and equipment. Consequently, course resources were developed to help mitigate these challenges by streamlining preparation for instructors new to teaching the course, as well as minimizing the face-to-face use of traditional materials testing equipment in the laboratory portion of the course. These same resources can be used to support online hybrid and other alternative (e.g., emporium) delivery approaches. After initial pilot implementation of the course during the Spring 2015 semester by the curriculum designer in a flipped student-centered format, these same resources were then implemented by an instructor who had never previously taught the course, at a different community college that did not have its own materials laboratory facilities. A single site visit was arranged with a nearby community college to afford students an opportunity to complete certain lab activities using traditional materials testing equipment. Lessons learned during this attempt were used to inform curriculum revisions, which were evaluated in a repeat offering the following year. In all implementations of the course, student surveys and interviews were used to determine students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the course resources, student use of these resources, and overall satisfaction with the course. Additionally, student performance on objective assessments was compared with that of traditional lecture delivery of the course by the curriculum designer in prior years. During initial implementations of the course, results from these surveys and assessments revealed low levels of student satisfaction with certain aspects of the flipped approach and course resources, as well as reduced learning among students at the alternate institution. Subsequent modifications to the curriculum and delivery approach were successful in addressing most of these deficiencies.« less