Document Type

Conference Paper

Version Deposited

Published Version

Publication Date


Conference Name

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition




A College of Engineering at a mid-size public university in the mid-Atlantic region is changing its first year student advising system after a relatively rapid increase in its student population.The college admitted approximately 150 engineering first year students annually between 2000 and 2010. Starting in 2011, larger first year classes were admitted, growing to approximately 380 first year students in Fall 2014. Future classes are expected to remain in the 375 to 400 student range. Before Fall 2014, all first year students were advised entirely by faculty. A relatively high faculty-to-student ratio and strong faculty commitment contributed to successful advising, as measured by high retention from the first to second year (93.4 %) and a high four and six-year graduation rate (55 and 73 %, respectively). As student numbers grew, so did concern about the ability of the faculty system to provide sufficient advising. In Fall 2014 a hybrid system was adopted in which one professional staff member is responsible for advice on course sequencing,college/university policies and procedures, scheduling and campus resources for all first year students. Faculty members continue to provide information and guidance related to industry-driven competencies and career information. The hybrid system also includes more online resources, including student quizzes and an advising Wiki. To provide feedback that can be used to guide and improve the new advising system, two surveys were directly incorporated into the ebook used in the introduction to engineering course taken by all first year students The PathFinder website has been used to provide the ebook and on-line quizzes and homework for all sections of the first year course since Fall 2012. In Fall 2014, two quizzes were added related to advising. The first quiz, administered in October shortly before course registration, prompts students to consider and evaluate their need for and use of university resources, e.g., advising, career management assistance, tutoring, etc. The second survey, administered at the end of the semester, asks students to reflect on how they used university resources during their first semester.The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the new hybrid advising system. This will be accomplished using: (1) the two online quizzes; (2) direct observations by the professional adviser; (3) a focus group with select students at the end of the semester; (4) a survey of the faculty advisors; and (5) analysis of student retention from Fall 2014 to Spring 2015.


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