Exploring Early College Credit Implications for Engineering

Date
2013-06-01
Authors
Zunkel, Karen
Pontius, Jason
Brumm, Thomas
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In the past decade, increasing numbers of students are taking college credit courses while still in high school, through programs such as Advanced Placement or through agreements with the local community colleges. Recognizing this trend, an Iowa State University task force researched the impact that this early college credit (ECC) was having on both the student experience and the university. The study methodology included both quantitative and qualitative analyses, using student academic records, student surveys and focus groups, faculty focus groups, and review of institutional materials. This paper disaggregates institutional findings to compare the experiences of engineering and non-engineering students. Similar to nonengineering students, engineering students with ECC had higher one-year retention rates, took fewer credits their first semester of enrollment, graduated after eight semesters of enrollment and graduated in fewer semesters overall than did engineering students without ECC. However, there were differences in the experiences between engineering students and non-engineering students. Engineering students did not see an increase in GPA or graduation rates; and, they were more likely to repeat courses taken as ECC and to have their ECC courses not count toward their degree programs. Strategies to increase the effectiveness of ECC for engineering students could include offering of key entry-level engineering courses to students in high school, a review of the engineering curriculum for sequencing and flexibility, increased attention on issues of mathematics curriculum alignment with feeder institutions, and improved communication with high school students, parents and counselors.

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