The Maximizing Engineering Potential (MEP) program supports the recommendation for all learning support services programs to work together as a Learning Coalition. Effective communication and coordination between as well as focused assessment and evaluation of learning support services programs is essential to achieving the student learning outcomes to which we are all committed. Nevertheless, to characterize the goals of the programs as deriving from perceived learning needs and historical precedence ignores the core realities of these programs and the documented (not perceived) learning needs of its student participants.
MEP is located in the College of Engineering to address the documented underrepresentation of Latino, Black and Native American students in the engineering profession, as well as in their enrollment and graduation in engineering schools. This represents a nationwide challenge, with global implications, which has persisted from the inception of the Cal Poly Pomona MEP in 1983 to the present, and is projected to continue for some time in the future. MEP continues to be a leader in a nationwide STEM initiative, strongly supported by its own industry advisory board and a network of companies and professional organizations seeking to address this challenge.
MEP introduces learning communities – a small cohort of students that takes a set of integrated courses and activities together – to incoming freshman students, who are mainly first-generation college students, in order to enhance their engagement in the learning process and have higher retention rates. Research has shown that Cal Poly Pomona MEP students who actively participate in its learning community program have higher retention and less attrition. MEP’s clustering, group study workshops and orientation classes form the basis of this learning community. Unless the entire Cal Poly Pomona campus offered this structure to all students, a means by which all students would be grouped into smaller cohorts and required to participate in learning communities, MEP’s effectiveness and support from its constituency would be severely affected.
An endeavor to coordinate educational equity programs, similar to MEP were attempted in the past at Cal Poly Pomona. The only college based equity program currently similar to MEP is the SEES (Science Educational Enhancement Services) in the College of Science.
The college-based educational equity programs provided support services to Cal Poly Pomona students who:
declared a major and were first-generation college attendees,
were underrepresented in the college or school,
were in transition and are unfamiliar with the university environment.
Faculty, students and administration from each college or school, and student affairs professionals provided opportunities for students participants to strengthen their connection to the university and enhance their ability to succeed academically, thus forming a diverse community of learners within the chosen major.
The design of these programs was to collaboratively build a university experience best suited for students to promote their academic achievement, college persistence, satisfaction and improved graduation rates. The programs and other University services were designed to interact with one another to provide seamless support for the student's educational endeavor. Services offered by each program varied, included:
academic advisement encompassing course registration and graduation plans, specialized student orientations, instructional workshops, group study and computer support rooms, collaborative study groups with peer leaders, tutorial support, linkages with pre-professional student clubs and organizations, exploration of graduate schools and career opportunities, networking with industry professionals, financial aid and scholarship information, attendance at student leader institutes, cross-cultural programming, cluster registration in sections of difficult core courses with adjunct tutorial support, socials, newsletters, graduation and recognition celebrations.
There were eight College-Based Programs at Cal Poly Pomona. They were:
Agricultural Educational Enhancement Services (AGREES)
Business Educational Enhancement Services (BEES)
College of Arts Retention & Enhancement Services (CARES)
College of Environmental Design Education Enhancement Program (CEDEEP)
Hospitality Opportunity Program for Educational Enhancement (HOPE2)
Maximizing Engineering Program (MEP)
Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES)
School of Education & Integrative Studies Enhancement Program (SEISEP)