Assessing the impact of faculty advising and mentoring in a project-based learning environment on student learning outcomes, persistence in engineering and post-graduation plans

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Conference Proceeding

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In 2000, we introduced an undergraduate engineering curricular option to serve as an alternative to the traditional two-semester senior capstone experience, and intended to better meet the needs of students and industry. Initially funded through NSF, this program offers teams of students from varied disciplines the opportunity to work for several years in a business-like setting solving real-world problems supplied by industry. This program has converted the traditional classroom into a multi-year, interdisciplinary, experiential learning environment, and the role of instructor from one who imparts knowledge to that of mentor, guiding students as they discover and apply knowledge. The program is now self-sustaining and successfully attracts and retains STEM-discipline students, making them more marketable to employers upon graduation. Under NSF's IEECI program, we undertook a study to determine whether participation in such a project-based learning environment, together with the redefined role of faculty mentors, are positively correlated to student education outcomes. One measurement tool used to capture student perceptions was a modified form of the Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey (APPLES), to look at contributors to students' persistence in engineering. In this paper, we will share the results of the APPLES survey component of our study as related to the faculty mentor role and project-based team learning environments. © 2011 IEEE.

Publication Title

Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE