Journal Title

122nd ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Publication Date



This paper reports on a grant-funded summer bridge program developed for incoming first-year engineering students who were not academically prepared to start Calculus 1. The six-week,residential, pre-college program was offered for the first time in the summer of 2014. The primary purpose of the program was to help students develop in their math proficiency so they could begin their freshman year on track toward their engineering or computer science degree.The summer bridge program was developed in conjunction with a multi-year grant-funded retention program at the School of Engineering at the University of X, a private, Catholic institution serving approximately 3700 undergraduate students; of those 3700, approximately 700 are engineering students.Program Objectives. The program was informed by Social Constructivist Learning Theory, which asserts that learning and development cannot occur outside of social and environmental contexts. To increase retention and success of first-year engineering students, the summer bridge program was designed to 1) Allow students to enter their freshman year on-track academically and gain exposure to college-level coursework; 2) Provide the information and support necessary to ensure a smooth transition into college; 3) Enhance student interest in and commitment to the engineering field; and 4) Help students build community on campus.Program Details There were 240 engineering students who entered the University of X in Fall 2014. Of those 240,42 did not place into Calculus 1, making them eligible for the summer bridge program; 11 students participated in the summer bridge program. The entire cost of the program, excluding meals, was subsidized by the grant, providing access for students with high financial need. During the bridge program, students took Pre-Calculus II and Intro to Theology, allowing those who completed both courses to enter their first year one course ahead. In addition to taking classes, students also participated in site visits to local companies, and attended workshops intended to introduce students to campus life. Throughout their time in the program, participants lived in the same residence hall and had the support of a peer mentor, who served as an academic and social resource for students. Assessment: There were three assessments conducted during the summer bridge program: a pre-assessment survey at the beginning of the program, and a post-assessment survey and focus group after the conclusion of the program. Data from the pre-assessment survey demonstrated that most students’ expectations were to build fundamental math skills, to learn more about the engineering field, and to get acquainted with University of X. Data from the post-assessment survey and focus group demonstrated that students felt that after completing the program they had improved in their math and writing skills, learned about the field of engineering, and had been successfully oriented to college. Although it is too early to determine the long-term academic trajectory of the 11 participants, based on assessment data already collected, it appears as though the summer program was successful in many of its stated goals.


College dropouts--Prevention; College freshmen; Education, Higher; Engineering students

Publication Information

122nd ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2015, 1-24.

© 2015 American Society for Engineering Education

Archived version is the final published version.



Document Type

Conference Paper