Toys and Mathematical Options for Retention in Engineering (Toys 'n MORE): STEM Students Introduced to One or More Intervention Strategies

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Conference Proceeding

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This paper presents preliminary data resulting from the implementation of a project referred to as Toys and Mathematical Options for Retention in Engineering (Toys'n MORE). The Toys'n MORE study is funded through the Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP grant, DUE # 0756992) of the National Science Foundation and seeks to increase the retention of students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees. With an emphasis on the proportion of engineering majors, Toys'n MORE seeks to increase the number of students in STEM majors by as much as 10%.

This project is being conducted by the College of Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. The project involves the College of Engineering and 14 geographically-dispersed campuses in the Penn State system. These campuses serve as both feeder schools for the main campus and also offer baccalaureate and associate degrees in a number of STEM majors. Considering the number and geographic diversity of the campuses involved and the number of different STEM fields served, this effort is significant.

The project is based on three intervention strategies and an assessment strategy. The three intervention strategies include: (a) enhanced tutoring programs for foundational mathematics courses in algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, (b) a freshman toy-based design course (called Toy FUN-damentals) in which dissection and re-design of toys is used to engage students in a positive environment, and (c) a math-intensive summer bridge program offered at three regional campuses to facilitate underrepresented engineering freshmen as they transition from high school to college. The strength of this project lies in the comprehensive scope of the interventions as well as its large sample size.

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