Proceedings of the 129th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN, June 2022
This complete research paper assesses the long-term benefits of first-year student participation in an Engineering Living-Learning Community (ELLC) at a relatively small private university. Prior research on ELLCs has examined short-term results such as first-year student engagement, academic performance, and retention, but relatively few studies have reported data on long-term outcomes such as graduation rates and GPA at graduation. This paper reports the outcomes of four cohorts of Engineering students who entered the study university between 2013 and 2016.
Students participating in the ELLC had significantly higher 4-year graduation rates in Engineering (55.7% vs. 42%) and in STEM (64.3% vs. 51.2%), and higher 4-year graduation rates from the university (66.1% vs. 56.8%), than non-honors Engineering students who did not participate in the ELLC. Although the average first-semester GPA of ELLC participants was significantly higher than that of non-participants (3.15 vs. 2.82), the difference faded over time. The average GPA at graduation for ELLC Engineering graduates was 3.22, compared to 3.12 for non-honors non-ELLC Engineering graduates.
To determine whether the ELLC’s superior outcomes might be explained by differences in incoming student characteristics between the ELLC and non-ELLC groups, or by student participation in other programs such as a first-year seminar or athletics, multinomial logistic and linear regression were used to control for high school GPA, SAT scores, and other factors. The results indicate that ELLC participation doubled the odds of four-year graduation in Engineering or STEM over non-participation, both significant effects, and increased graduation GPA in Engineering by 0.07 points.
This study suggests that a relatively modest intervention implemented in the first year alone may have lasting benefits on student retention and performance, even in small universities that might be thought to have less need for the community development an LLC provides. Introduction
Palm, W. (2022, August), First-Year Engineering Living-Learning Communities Improve Four-Year Graduation Rates at a Small Private University. Proceedings of the 129th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN, June 2022. https://peer.asee.org/41630