STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Final Outcomes for STEM Students Who Participated in Math Tutoring, a Toy-Based Freshman Engineering Design Course, or a Summer Bridge Program

Math-intensive summer bridge programs at 3 regional campuses achieved our goal of a 10% increase in retention in Engineering.

The Pennsylvania State University Toys and Mathematical Options for Retention in Engineering (Toys’n MORE) project completed eight semesters of data collection. This poster presents final data analysis. This project is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under STEP grant #0756992. The goal of Toys’n MORE is to increase the retention of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students, particularly Engineering, enrolled at 14 geographically-dispersed regional campuses in the Penn State system. These campuses, along with the University Park campus, offer associate and bachelor STEM degree majors. The study is comprised of three intervention strategies and an assessment strategy. The strategies include:   (a) enhanced tutoring programs for foundational math courses in Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Calculus I; the central goal of the math tutoring strategy is to maximize success in math courses so students (i) do not repeat math courses and (ii) stay on track for the completion of a STEM major. We implemented two math strategies: a one-credit tutoring course that accompanied Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Calculus I at four campuses, and a “math mastery” strategy at one campus focused on mastering the material in Algebra II and Trigonometry before moving to the next topic. (b) a freshman toy-based design course called Toy FUN-damentals that involves the dissection and re-design of toys through implementation of an active, collaborative, project-based approach in freshmen engineering design courses; the goal of Toy FUN-damentals is to enhance retention by engaging students in a fun, non-threatening, team-based environment. (c) math-intensive summer bridge programs at three regional campuses to assist incoming underrepresented engineering students as they make the transition from high school to college; the advantage for students attending a summer bridge at their local campus rather than at the University Park campus is that the students at a local campus can more readily form cohort groups and learning communities that will carry over into the fall and future semesters. (d) and the assessment and evaluation of the intervention strategies.   We present data for the four years of data collection (Fall 2009 through Spring 2013) for each of the three interventions, focusing on retention data.

Lead Author

  • Catherine Cohan

Institution Information

  • Name: Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Main Campus
  • State: PA

Poster Information

  • ID: MC-005
  • Disciplinary Focus: Engineering
  • Award Number: 0756992
  • Project Year 5+