Retention of Freshman Agricultural Engineering Students Through an Experiential Lab Course
Retention of freshman agricultural engineering (AE) students has been a struggle at Iowa State University (ISU) in past years. This has been attributed to the lack of interaction of the freshmen students with faculty, upperclassmen in AE, and meaningful exposure to the field of AE during their first two semesters. A laboratory-based, team orientated, and hands-on course was developed to help address this problem. Students took this course during their second semester at ISU. Using a pre- and post- semester questionnaire assessment tool, the success of the course was evaluated. Results showed that the students attitude toward the department improved significantly during the semester, that meaningful relationships with faculty and upperclassman in the department increased, and that they were still confident in the major they had chosen. Mentoring by upperclassmen was also found to be a very positive experience for the freshmen. The mentors also found the experience very valuable. An additional benefit was that students became more comfortable in writing technical lab reports. Faculty support was found to be excellent.
This proceeding is from 2000 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings CD-ROM, Session 2606, p. 1–12, St. Louis, MO (June 2000).