A unique online bridging program sets students up for success

Posted on August 10, 2020

The Fall 2020 term is destined to be the ‘most online’ semester in academic history, thanks to the COVID pandemic. Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science wanted to be sure its incoming class was as prepared as possible. So the Faculty did exactly what one might expect engineers to do when faced with troubled waters.

They built a bridge.

QEng Prep, an innovative online bridging program for high school students entering Queen’s Engineering, launched one month ago and has already proven a powerful tool for new Queen’s students. “Students often find the transition from high school to university programming quite challenging,” says Alicia McDonald, a project manager at the Faculty who led development of the program. “With the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Faculty has ensured that students have the option to start their undergraduate degree as prepared as possible.”

Queen's ENG prep

The free program has been helping students review key math, physics, and chemistry concepts, and is entirely self-directed, letting students learn at their own pace. Students start by taking a diagnostic quiz to identify which core topics they may need to brush up on. They then access online modules that cover all key information in a variety of formats, followed by self-check quizzes to solidify their learning.

So far, over one-third of incoming engineering students have completed one or more diagnostic quizzes, the first step to help students recognize which topics they may need to review. The real proof of the program’s early success is in the diagnostic and self-check quiz scores – on average, the scores for the self-check quizzes, taken once the students have completed the modules, are over 20% higher than the initial diagnostic tests.

Engineering Dean Kevin Deluzio is very excited about the program, both as the parent of an incoming student and as an educator. He believes the program is an excellent way for students to get back into a routine for the fall and be certain that they are prepared academically.

“I myself have taken a peek at the QEng Prep content, and some of it really is challenging – but I’ve never met an engineer that doesn’t enjoy a challenge! Rest assured that now more than ever, the Faculty has the well-being and success of our students at the heart of everything that we do, and we will continue to adapt to these ever-changing times as the tight-knit community that we are.”

This program is giving students the opportunity to build academic confidence while also getting a glimpse of what online learning will look like at Queen’s in the coming year. “It challenged my thinking and problem-solving skills, and kept me engaged in the topic,” one incoming student wrote.

Students have been finding the courses to be a great confidence builder out of the gate. Even those students who generally feel more prepared than some of their peers are finding the diagnostic quizzes a reassurance that they are prepared for the fall semester. One incoming student shared, “I think the QEng Prep courses as a whole are incredibly helpful, pandemic or not. It might be something to consider every summer, negligible of global crisis.”

Many students commented that the prep program has helped them to get back into a routine after finishing high school and improved their independent time management skills – ensuring smoother sailing as they transition to University.