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A Unique Tool to Advance Diversity Outcomes in Engineering Education

Student Retention Toolkit

NSBE Student Retention KitExpanding the nation’s engineering talent pool is critical to U.S. economic competitiveness, and diversity is vital to engineering innovation. But many U.S. institutions of higher education are struggling in these efforts. Only 35,421 of the 112,721 engineering bachelor’s degree recipients in this country in the 2015–16 academic year were African American/Black, Latino, Native American or female. And the percentage of those students among U.S. engineering graduates has been flat or declining for more than a decade.

The NSBE Student Retention Toolkit, sponsored by ExxonMobil and published by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), was developed to address this problem by helping U.S. colleges and universities change the equation for engineering diversity within their institutions.

The NSBE Student Retention Toolkit provides research-based strategy briefs, each nine pages or fewer, that present proven strategies for improving student retention and student success in engineering degree programs.

The briefs include clear action steps for the readers as well as guidance in avoiding pitfalls. Each strategy is grounded in examples of campus programs that have raised success rates for underrepresented minorities, women and first-generation college-goers.

The Student Retention Toolkit is part of NSBE’s broader effort to dramatically increase the number of underrepresented minority and women engineers in the U.S. over the next eight years, both separately and in collaboration with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in the 50K Coalition.

The NSBE Student Retention Toolkit Briefs

Institution and Department Topics

  • Campus Climate
    How to measure and shape students’ perceptions of the college environment in general and engineering programs in particular
  • Faculty Development
    The critical role of active learning by faculty in improving student outcomes
  • Institutional Leadership
    Strategies to engage senior leaders of the college or university in supporting and promoting engineering diversity efforts

Concept Topics

  • Identity
    Moving underrepresented minority and women students beyond cultural, racial or gender differences from the majority to help them see themselves as engineers
  • Self-Efficacy
    How to improve students’ assessment of their capability in engineering
  • The Goals
    To increase the annual number of engineering bachelor’s degree recipients in the U.S. by 2025
  • NSBE
    10,000 African-American Graduates
  • 50K Coalition
    50,000 African-American, Latino, Native American and Women Graduates
  • NSBE’s Mission
    To increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community

Core Strategy Topics

  • Early Alert Systems
    Effective methods of reaching out to struggling students in time to turn around their performance
  • Facilitated Study Groups
    How to implement these periodic, collaborative learning sessions to improve students’ grades and self-confidence
  • Living-Learning Communities
    Bonding college students to the campus, their peers and their engineering programs in residential academic settings
  • Scholar Cohort Programs
    Setting up talented teams of students who pursue their engineering degrees and graduate together
  • Summer Bridge Programs
    Designing and implementing these gateway programs for incoming freshmen that are proven to increase their retention in engineering

“Diversity increases engineering innovation and engineering success. This publication is a unique resource for leaders who want to advance their educational institutions by acting on that knowledge.”

NSBE 2016–18 National Chair Matthew C. Nelson