Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.33.1 - 9.33.11
A Demographic Characterization of First-Year Engineering Students
Catherine Pieronek, John J. Uhran, Leo H. McWilliams, Stephen E. Silliman
University of Notre Dame
The observation of substantially different retention rates of men versus women from initial enrollment as first-year engineering intents to enrollment as engineering majors at the beginning of the sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame has motivated an examination of demographic data to assess retention patterns. Based on the numbers of students enrolling in a required first-year engineering course, which has an initial population of approximately 360 students per year, women have exhibited a lower retention rate to the sophomore year (~50%) than have men (~65%). Demographic data discussed in the present manuscript include: gender; SAT scores; course grades; and intended major.
As evidenced by national studies on the retention of women in engineering programs, and as corroborated at Notre Dame, many demographic factors such as SAT scores and course grades do not accurately predict which students will remain in engineering. This necessitated a more thorough examination of student records to look for potential indicators of retention. Most interestingly, the student’s “intended major,” as indicated on the application for admission to Notre Dame, provides a significant indicator of retention. Students who, in their senior year of high school, had indicated an engineering discipline as their intended major on their application for admission remained in the program at a higher rate (~68%) than students who selected a non- engineering discipline as their intended major (~41%). While male students in each category remained in the program at a higher rate than female students in each category, the retention differential between male and female students who selected engineering as their intended was smaller (~9%) than the retention differential between male and female students who selected something other than engineering as their intended major (~20%).
Since students who select a major other than engineering on their application for admission comprise approximately 25 percent of first-year students who initially enroll in engineering at Notre Dame, this information is influencing Notre Dame’s efforts to increase retention, particularly among women. Of particular importance, the College now identifies the non- engineering admits, and particularly the women in this group, as at high risk for leaving engineering. The College is, therefore, designing special activities to increase communication with this group to aid them in making appropriate decisions regarding engineering as a potential major.
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Silliman, S., & McWilliams, L. H., & Uhran, J., & Pieronek, C. (2004, June), A Demographic Characterization Of First Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13184
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