(25d) Retrospective Analysis of the Effect of an Online “Bridging” Course Sequence on Student Success in Graduate Studies | AIChE

(25d) Retrospective Analysis of the Effect of an Online “Bridging” Course Sequence on Student Success in Graduate Studies


Cooper, M. - Presenter, North Carolina State University
Bullard, L., North Carolina State University
Since 2018 NC State’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) has offered a self-paced online course sequence consisting of two courses, three credit hours each, for students who have a BS degree in a non-ChE science or engineering field. This two-course sequence serves as a “bridging course” and teaches core ChE concepts to students, covering material including material and energy balances, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, and reactor design. The goal of this work is to determine the impact, whether positive or negative, of bridging course sequence completion on the success of students without undergraduate ChE degrees in CBE graduate studies; in other words, we aim to determine if the bridging course sequence is more effective than ad-hoc measures (e.g. having students take designated undergraduate classes) at helping students achieve success in ChE graduate study. Here we present assessment of whether an experimental group of 77 students who have taken the bridging course since 2018: (1) performed better in core CBE graduate courses (Process Modeling, Thermodynamics, Transport Phenomenon, and Chemical Reaction Engineering) and (2) more frequently earned a graduate degree compared to a control group of 155 students who were admitted to the graduate program since 2009 without a BS ChE degree and did not take the bridging course. We also provide an analysis of only bridging course students which contrasts student GPA across the bridging course sequence against GPA in their later core graduate ChE courses to explore whether success in the bridging courses portends success in specific core graduate courses of the curriculum. The results of this work will support advising of prospective graduate students without ChE undergraduate degrees as well as identifying potential areas for improvement in bridging course content.