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Intersecting Theory and Practice: Using Co-Curricular Support to Enable Student Success

Walter Lee, Engineering Education, Virginia Tech

Thursday, February 9, 2015
1–2 p.m.
Peralta (PRLTA) 130, Polytechnic campus [map]

Despite continued efforts to retain undergraduate students, engineering programs still face unfavorable student attrition rates. Additionally, student diversity has been a persistent problem in engineering, and the number of Bachelor’s degrees awarded to underrepresented populations has not significantly increased since the mid-1990s. Under these circumstances, there remains an urgent need for student interventions that address the needs of students from underrepresented populations as they progress through undergraduate engineering degree programs. To support this effort, Lee completed his dissertation with the aspiration of better understanding the approaches applied by university employees tasked with supporting underrepresented engineering students. More specifically, he adopted a multicase study approach to explore how the student interventions offered alongside engineering curricula influence the undergraduate experience. Using multiple qualitative methods, he examined six Engineering Stu-dent Support Centers (e.g., Minority Engineering Pro-grams, Women in Engineering Programs, etc.) housed at four institutions throughout the country. The outcome of this study was the Model of Co-Curricular Support, which is a repurposed version of Tinto’s Model of Institutional Departure. The intent behind this model was to combine student-retention theory with student-support practice in a way that could facilitate future collaborations amongst educational researchers and student support practitioners. This seminar will introduce attendees to the presenter, overview his dissertation research on the use of student-interventions to provide underrepresented students with co-curricular support, and describe the role co-curricular support has in enabling student success and transforming engineering education.

Walter Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in the Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education. His researcher advisor is Dr. Holly Matusovich, and his research interests include diversity, student retention, co-curricular student support, and motivation within engineering education. Lee has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University and an M.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. In 2012 he received a Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award from the National Science Foundation, and in 2014, he was selected at the Graduate Student of the Year for Virginia Tech. Mr. Lee also serves as a program assistant for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) at Virginia Tech. In this role, he has spent several years directing a summer bridge program, facilitating a group-mentoring program, and instructing a first-year seminar. Lee has the career vision to be a driving force in the national efforts to diversify engineering and ensure that institutions provide students with the necessary support to succeed regard-less of their background.


*Seminar is FREE and available via Adobe Connect; click here for access.


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