I’m reading Integrated Engineering Curricula by Jeffrey Froyd and Matthew Ohland, and one of the focuses in the motivation section explains how learning communities have been proven to improve retention rates in engineering programs , especially with women and minorities.
Now I’m definitely going to do some community-building in my TA section. The students have lecture classes of over 100 people, and the only place they have a chance to meet each other and work together is in the weekly lab of about 20 students. We’ll start with names and a short ice breaker on Tuesday of this week, and I’m going to do some follow up reading on how to create a learning community and look for ideas to implement in labs in the following weeks. I am especially going to encourage them to form study groups – I know that is what has always made *the most* difference in improving my study habits for my engineering courses. I just wonder how to get them to actually follow up on that and form study groups. Maybe I can do something targeted for the first exam… Hm.
 Tinto,V.,LeavingCollege:RethinkingtheCausesandCuresofStu- dent Attrition, 2d ed., Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.