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A Taxonomy of Engineering Matriculation Practices

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

FPD 3: Research on First-Year Courses

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.120.1 - 23.120.13



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Paper Authors


Xingyu Chen Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Xingyu Chen is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained her master’s degree in operational research and bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Zhejiang University, China. She started to pursue her Ph.D. degree in engineering education at Purdue in 2010. She is working with Dr. Ohland on the Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD), and also on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database.

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Catherine E. Brawner Research Triangle Educational Consultants

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Catherine E. Brawner is President of Research Triangle Educational Consultants. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis from NC State University in 1996. She also has an MBA from Indiana University (Bloomington) and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. She specializes in evaluation and research in engineering education, computer science education, teacher education, and technology education. Dr. Brawner is a founding member and former treasurer of Research Triangle Park Evaluators, an American Evaluation Association affiliate organization and is a member of the American Educational Research Association and American Evaluation Association, in addition to ASEE. Dr. Brawner is also an Extension Services Consultant for the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) and, in that role, advises computer science departments on diversifying their undergraduate student population. She currently serves as the principal evaluator for the Teachers Attracting Girls to Computer Science project which aims to increase and diversify the student population studying computer science in high school. Dr. Brawner previously served as principal evaluator of the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED Coalition. She remains an active researcher with MIDFIELD, studying gender issues, transfers, and matriculation models in engineering.

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Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by more than $12.4 million from the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received the William Elgin Wickenden Award for the Best Paper in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and 2011. Ohland is Past Chair of ASEE’s Educational Research and Methods division and a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Education Society. He was the 2002-2006 President of Tau Beta Pi.

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Marisa K. Orr Louisiana Tech University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Orr is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University. She completed her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, as well as a Certificate of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. Her research interests include student persistence and pathways in engineering, gender equity and diversity, and academic policy.

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Engineering Matriculation Practices: A Benchmarking StudyContribution: Researchers have studied first-year engineering programs in various ways,including multiple surveys, but have yet to develop a taxonomic system for describing howstudents matriculate to a discipline in all engineering colleges. Such a descriptive study is ingreat demand. Institutions seeking to benchmark, improve the method they are using, orimplement a new method will find this a useful reference.Methods: We canvassed all 403 US undergraduate ABET EAC-accredited engineering programsto determine the universe of practices leading to direct contact with a specific engineering major.Data was gathered from university, college, and departmental websites and through telephonecalls to admissions and engineering personnel. In addition, in-depth interviews were conductedwith College of Engineering representatives at the 11 institutions that comprise the MultipleInstitution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD)partnership. These semi-structured interviews determined: 1) who makes the admissions decisionfor engineering students; 2) at what point may students declare an engineering major; 3) theformal mechanism by which students are advised; and 4) support programs that are available forfirst year students.Findings: Our preliminary taxonomy consists of four primary matriculation modes:  Formal First-Year Engineering Program (FYE) – A first year engineering program “owns” the students until they have met the requirements to matriculate into their disciplinary major. Ownership includes advising and the teaching of an Introduction to Engineering sequence.  Direct Matriculation with required General Engineering coursework (DM-GE) –Students enroll in a specific engineering major when they matriculate and are generally advised there. Students are required to take an introduction to engineering course or sequence.  Direct Matriculation without required General Engineering coursework (DM-noGE) – Students enroll in a specific engineering major when they matriculate and are generally advised there. The first engineering course that students take is in the discipline.  Post-General Education (PGE) – Students complete their general education requirements before matriculating into an engineering major. Advising is done outside of the College of Engineering.A hybrid of the two DM modes exists in some programs, where some engineering majors requirean introduction to engineering and others do not. Undecided students at DM institutions may alsoenter engineering without declaring a specific engineering major. We call these students“undesignated engineering” or DMU.From the interviews we learned:  The college influence on admissions ranges from none at all to setting the admissions standards for engineering students. However, none makes admissions decisions directly.  DM students may declare a major when they enter the institution; if they are undecided, they may declare one at any time as long as they are in good academic standing.  Students in FYE programs may matriculate into a major upon satisfactory completion of first year engineering requirements, normally at the end of the second semester.  Undesignated students in most DM programs are advised centrally in engineering.

Chen, X., & Brawner, C. E., & Ohland, M. W., & Orr, M. K. (2013, June), A Taxonomy of Engineering Matriculation Practices Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19134

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