skip to main content

Title: Equity, Engineering, and Excellence: Pathways to Student Success
Wright College, an urban open-access community college, independently accredited within the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) system, is a federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) with one of the largest community college enrollments of Hispanic students in Illinois. Wright College’s student success rates measured by completion have been strong and improving relative to other national urban community colleges, but are below state and national averages. In 2015 the college piloted a selective guaranteed admission program, Engineering Pathways (EP), to one of the nation’s top engineering schools (The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, UIUC). Initial results for the small first-year cohort were very positive: 89% transfer rate and all students who transferred to UIUC graduated. The program’s initial success rested on a) cohort model with a small number of students and strong controls; b) co-branding that attracted local students interested in pursuing engineering at UIUC who might not otherwise have enrolled at Wright; c) academic rigor (small class size with Wright College’s curricula matching UIUC); d) robust student support services and structures; and e) a holistic college commitment to equity and inclusive excellence. Wright College obtained a National Foundation Science (NSF)-HSI research grant in 2018 to support the more » Engineering Pathways. The grant examines EP students’ self-efficacy and sense of belonging. Wright College foregrounds student “belonging” in its equity efforts. Equity work calls for the systemic analysis and tracking of student performance, engagement and participation throughout the student life-cycle, with data-informed analysis of behavior and outcomes through a lens of race, gender and wealth. EP students shared similar racial and ethnic backgrounds as Wright College’s non-engineering students. They attended the same elementary and public schools, have similar family structures, socioeconomic status (SES) and supports. NSF resources assisted Wright College’s creation of a contextualized engineering summer bridge and a more structured pre-engineering program. As enrollment in the EP program increased, the college dedicated additional resources, including faculty, enhanced student support, and guaranteed junior-level transfer to other nearby baccalaureate engineering schools. Central to the effort was significantly greater structure and monitoring of student performance, including academic and support frameworks for non-EP students. Wright College and baccalaureate transfer institutions reviewed and updated articulation agreements. In the Engineering Summer Bridge Program’s first two years, forty-five (45) students who would otherwise have been denied admission to EP are thriving and are positioned to transfer to four-year engineering programs. In this paper, Wright College will review the college’s equity efforts, the structure and implementation of the Engineering Pathways, and the creation of new engineering transfer programs. It will explore visible and invisible barriers to students’ success, contrasting students in Wright College’s EP program with other Wright College students. The authors argue that the systemic pursuit of equity, particularly with a focus on self-efficacy, belonging, and the creation of an environment committed to inclusive excellence, will result in very strong student outcomes. « less
Authors:
; ;
Award ID(s):
1832553
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10287122
Journal Name:
2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Wright College, an open-access community college in northwest Chicago, is an independently accredited institution in the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) system. Wright is federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) with the largest enrollment of Hispanic students in Illinois. In 2015 Wright piloted a selective guaranteed admission program to the Grainer College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Students in the Engineering Pathways (EP) program follow a cohort system with rigorous curriculum aligned to UIUC. From this pilot Wright built programmatic frameworks (one-stop intentional advising; mandatory tutoring, near-peer, faculty and professional mentoring; and access to professional organizations) to support EP students. Initial results were positive: 89% transfer rate and 89% bachelor’s degree completion. Building from the EP frameworks, Wright obtained a National Science Foundation (NSF) HSI research grant to expand programs to non-pathway students. Through the grant, Building Bridges into Engineering and Computer Science, the college developed assessment tools, increased the number of 4-year partnerships, and designed and implemented an Engineering Summer Bridge with curriculum contextualized for the needs of the Near-STEM ready students. These students need one to four semesters of Math remediation before moving into the EP. The college measured the Bridge participants' success throughmore »analysis of Math proficiency before and after the Bridge, professional identity (sense of belonging) and self-efficacy (the belief that the students will succeed as engineers). Surveys and case study interviews are being supplemented with retention, persistence, transfer, associate and bachelor degree completion rates, and time for degree completion. The key research question is the correlation of these data with self-efficacy and professional identity measures. Preliminary Results: 1) Sixty percent (60%) of the Bridge participants eliminated the remedial Math requirement completely. (Increased Math proficiency) 2) Engineering admission and enrollment doubled. 4) Increased institutionalized collaborations: the creation of a more programmatic admission, advising, transfer, rigorous curriculum, and other student support services within the College. 5) Increased partnerships with 4-year transfer institutions resulting in the expansion of guaranteed/dual admissions programs with scholarships, paid research experience, dual advising, and students transferring as juniors. 5) Increased diversity in Engineering and Computer Science student population. Wright will share an overview of the Building Bridges into Engineering and Computer Science project, research design, expanded practices, assessments and insights from the development and implementation of this program. The developed frameworks will be applied to provide ALL students at Wright, and at CCC equitable Engineering and Computer Science education.« less
  2. Wright College, an urban open-access community college, independently accredited within a larger community college system, is a federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) with the largest community college enrollment of Hispanic students in its state. In 2018, Wright College received an inaugural National Science Foundation-Hispanic Serving Institution (NSF:HSI) research project grant “Building Capacity: Building Bridges into Engineering and Computer Science”. The project's overall goals are to increase underrepresented students pursuing an associate degree (AES) in engineering and computer science and streamline two transitions: high school to community college and 2-year to 4-year institutions. Through the grant, Wright College created a holistic and programmatic framework that examines and correlates engineering students' self-efficacy (the belief that students will succeed as engineers) and a sense of belonging with student success. The project focuses on Near-STEM ready students (students who need up to four semesters of math remediation before moving into Calculus 1). The project assesses qualitative and quantitative outcomes through surveys and case study interviews supplemented with retention, persistence, transfer, associate and bachelor's degree completion rates, and time for degree completion. The key research approach is to correlate student success data with self-efficacy and belonging measures. Outcomes and Impacts Three years into the project,more »Wright College Engineering and Computer Science Program was able to: • Develop and implement the Contextualized Summer Bridge with a total of 132 Near-STEM participants. One hundred twenty-seven (127) completed; 100% who completed the Bridge eliminated up to two years of math remediation, and 54% were directly placed in Calculus 1. All successful participants were placed in different engineering pathways, and 11 students completed Associate in Engineering Science (AES) and transferred after two years from the Bridge. • Increase enrollment by 940% (25 to 235 students) • Retain 93% of first-year students (Fall to fall retention). Seventy-five percent (75%) transferred after two years from initial enrollment. • Develop a holistic and programmatic approach for transfer model, thus increasing partnerships with 4-year transfer institutions resulting in the expansion of guaranteed/dual admissions programs with scholarships, paid research experience, dual advising, and students transferring as juniors. • Increase diversity at Wright College by bridging the academic gap for Near-STEM ready students. • Increase self-efficacy and belonging among all Program participants. • Increase institutionalized collaborations responsible for Wright College's new designation as the Center of Excellence for Engineering and Computer Science. • Increase enrollment, retention, and transfer of Hispanic students instrumental for Wright College Seal of Excelencia recognition. Lessons Learned The framework established during the first year of the grant overwhelmingly increased belonging and self-efficacy correlated with robust outcomes. However, the COVID-19 pandemic provided new challenges and opportunities in the second and third years of the grant. While adaptations were made to compensate for the negative impact of the pandemic, the face-to-face interactions were critical to support students’ entry into pathways and persistence within the Program.« less
  3. A combination of strategies was implemented to reduce barriers to transfer from associate to baccalaureate programs, and baccalaureate degree completion. These strategies include creation of the STEM Transfer Collaborative (STC). an adaption of the CUNY Pathways articulation initiative. Components of the STC include articulation agreements, shared professional development to align pedagogy and curriculum, outreach and collaboration by both the sending and receiving college faculty to begin transfer preparation and support before transfer occurs, and regular updates to community college faculty on the success of their transfer students. The second strategy employed is Momentum to the Baccalaureate (MB), an adaption of the CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). MB provides support for junior and senior-level transfer students who are either community colleges associate degree graduates (external transfer) or associate degree graduates who transferred to bachelor’s programs at the same comprehensive college they earned their associate degree at, which has a 2+2 degree structure (internal transfer). Components of MB include personalized mentoring, advisement, and monthly stipends to students who maintain full-time enrollment and good academic standing. Participating majors include computer engineering technology, computer systems technology, construction management and civil engineering technology, electrical engineering technology, and applied chemistry. Propensity matching was usedmore »to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies. Participating campuses are part of the City University of New York (CUNY), and include six community colleges (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Guttman Community College, Hostos Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and LaGuardia Community College), five of which are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and New York City College of Technology (City Tech), also an HSI, which offers associate and bachelor’s programs (2+2 structure). Our first cohort of 40 students started upper-level studies in fall 2019, and has completed 2 years (four semesters) of post-associate degree study. The second cohort of 40 students, started in fall 2020, and has completed one year (two semesters) of post-associate degree study. Cohort 1 students receiving MB, supports had a significantly higher graduation rate after two years than the college average. Additionally, for cohort 1, the STC seems to have reduced “transfer shock,” the typical drop in GPA the first semester after transfer. There was no statistical difference in GPA, credits completed and semester-to-semester persistence of internal and external transfers in the MB program. Cohort 1 external transfer students who received support though MB also had a statistically significant improvement in their semester GPAs for their first 3 semesters at City Tech compared to matched students who were not provided support in the junior and senior years. There was no statistically significant difference by the 4th semester. Cohort 2 internal transfers receiving MB supports in their junior year had a statistically significant improvement in credits earned and persistence compared to a matched cohort without MB supports. There was no statistically significant improvement of external transfers compared to a matched cohort, who did not receive MB supports The inability of external transfer students to come to campus due to the pandemic, may have negated the sense of community and belonging that MB was intended to create. Overall, these preliminary results suggest that targeted pre-transfer and post-transfer supports improve transfer student outcomes. This project (NSF grant #1832457) was funded through the NSF Division of Education, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program.« less
  4. Although many California Community College students from underrepresented groups enter college with high levels of interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the majority of them drop out or change majors even before taking transfer-level courses due to a variety of reasons including financial difficulties, inadequate academic preparation, lack of family support, poor study skills, and inadequate or ineffective academic advising and mentoring. In 2009, Cañada College, a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution in the San Francisco Bay Area, received a National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) grant to develop a scholarship program for financially needy community college students intending to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field. In collaboration with the College’s Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program – an academic, personal, and professional support structure has been designed and implemented to maximize the likelihood of success of these students. This support structure aims to create a learning community among the scholars through a combination of academic counseling and mentoring, personal enrichment and professional development opportunities, and strong academic support services. This paper describes how faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, student organizations, and partners in industry, four-yearmore »institutions, and professional organizations can be involved in creating an academic infrastructure that promotes academic excellence, leadership skills, and personal and professional growth among the diversity of financially needy STEM students in a community college.« less
  5. The Guided Pathways initiative is among many reform efforts that have been implemented by hundreds of community colleges in the country. Four main practice areas are intrinsic of Guided Pathways: 1) mapping pathways to students’ end goals, 2) helping students choose and enter a program pathway, 3) keeping students on a path, and 4) ensuring that students are learning. Although this approach is an important step toward successful transfer placement, the Guided Pathways do not address the visible and invisible barriers to student success once students transfer to a 4-year institution. This paper presents a novel and holistic approach to transfer that eliminates visible and invisible barriers to student success. The Holistic and Programmatic Approach for Transfer (HPAT) model includes early and active participation of the 4-year transfer partner, structured within a well-thought-out transfer articulation agreement that builds on a joint commitment to quality and student success. Integral to the agreement is the requirement for the rigor of the curriculum at the community college to match that of the 4-year partner, along with exceptional student support, financial assistance, and mentoring from the point of admission at the community college, through transfer and up to the bachelor's or master's degree completion.more »Unique to this model is the fully collaborative and holistic approach to admission; curriculum alignment, including content; participation in co-curricular activities; co-advising; co-mentoring; and data sharing that drive continuous improvement. Students in the program are concurrently registered in both the community college and the 4-year partner institution, becoming part of both student communities from the start. These students take classes at the 4-year partner at a discounted price while still enrolled at the community college, thus eliminating curricular barriers, ensuring placement as juniors, and facilitating belonging at the transfer institution. In addition, program-specific courses and activities at the transfer institution aim to eliminate the socialization and adjustment barrier upon transfer, further increasing belongingness to both institutions. Preliminary outcomes promise a ninety-five percent (95%) transfer rate within 2-3 years from admission. The Program's success is attributed to a holistic and programmatic approach for transfer that emphasizes cross-institutional commitment, effective mentoring, rigor, quality, and increases in the engineering profession (measured through a belonging survey and "Appreciative Inquiry" case study interviews). Although this approach is Engineering specific, our model is positioned to revolutionize transfer that can be duplicated for other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and non-STEM disciplines.« less