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A Mathematical Model To Identify Pre Turnover Mindset In Sophomore Students At The University

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Evaluation and Assessment of IE Programs

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.66.1 - 11.66.13



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Paper Authors

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Ann Koopmann University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Erick Jones University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

“Measuring STEM Attrition in an Engineering College”

Erick C. Jones, Ph.D. Ann Koopman Industrial and Management Systems Engineering Department University of Nebraska Lincoln

ABSTRACT Academic institutions seek to understand why Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students are leaving their programs and transferring into other majors. Previous research has identified multiple reasons for the student retention problem including attitudes toward the engineering field, student’s self-confidence levels, quality of instructor interactions, and robustness of the STEM curriculum. Some researchers suggest that more standardized quantitative measures for departmental environments need to be created, and more appropriate quantitative measurements need to be applied to studying STEM student attrition. This study demonstrates a methodology that will begin to fulfill this need. This paper reports the results of a study conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that used this methodology to evaluate measures affecting sophomore engineering students’ attrition. Results presented demonstrate that certain measures affect attrition in the College of Engineering & Technology (CoE&T) at the University of Nebraska.

INTRODUCTION Academic organizations spend millions of dollars each year to recruit students into STEM majors. The National Science Foundation and other organizations have allocated funds to increase the enrollment of STEM students. Administrators may be able to avoid negative consequences to universities and students by identifying the STEM students who are experiencing high levels of Cognitive Turnover. Jones (2001) defined Cognitive Turnover (CT) as a mind-set that is created by a combination of turnover cognitions brought about by the negative impacts of burnout. Turnover is the voluntary cessation of membership in an organization by an individual who receives current or future compensation for participating in that organization (Mobley 1982). Turnover has cognitive indicators that predicate eventual departure. Chemiss (1980) defines burnout as “a syndrome of inappropriate attitudes toward others and toward self often associated with uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms.” Maslach (1976) observed that burnout “appears to be a factor of organizational turnover, absenteeism, and low morale. While everyone may manifest this mind-set periodically, excessive CT (eCT) may be detrimental to the individual and the organizations they belong to. Subtle acts such as absenteeism, poor quality, and lack of discretionary effort are related to burnout and are common precursors to a person quitting an organization and become another turnover statistic. This research theorizes that eCT condition occurs when a person is absorbed with the thoughts of turnover created by organizationally driven burnout. For engineering students non-committal types behavior may originate from student stress and burnout created by class structure, administrative neglect, or lack of advisory support.


Koopmann, A., & Jones, E. (2006, June), A Mathematical Model To Identify Pre Turnover Mindset In Sophomore Students At The University Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1442

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