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Analysis of First-year Engineering Student Essays on Engineering Interests for Institutions of Different Carnegie Classifications

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

FPD XI: Tidbits and Cookies

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.185.1 - 25.185.19



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Paper Authors


Benjamin Emery Mertz Arizona State University

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Benjamin Mertz is currently a lecturer at Arizona State University, where he is a part of a team in charge of developing and improving the first-year engineering classes. Besides the Introduction to Engineering class, he also teaches aerospace and mechanical engineering classes at ASU. He received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 2010 and his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2005.

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Sara A. Atwood Elizabethtown College

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ASEE 2012 AbstractAnalysis of First-Year Engineering Student Essays on Engineering Interests forInstitutions of Different Carnegie ClassificationsAt the 2011 ASEE meeting, a study was presented investigating the factors that motivatestudents’ initial pathway into engineering. Results showed that while common themesemerged, there were differences in motivation between genders and amongst disciplines.As a follow-up to this study, we investigated responses of freshman engineering studentsto the same question at two new institutions: a large state university and a small regionalliberal arts college. We hypothesized that incoming students at these different types ofinstitutions would be interested in engineering for different reasons. As part of an in-class assignment for the Introduction to Engineering courses at each institution, studentswere asked to respond to the prompt, “Engineering is a very broad field of study. What isit about engineering that interests you?” The essay responses of 410 students (49 fromthe small liberal arts college and 361 from the large state university) were reviewed bytwo engineering education researchers (initially coded independently and then codescompared for final classification). The coding used in the 2010 study was followed forthis study. Comparison in response frequencies for the different coding categories werecompared for the two present institutions as well as the original, medium-sized, private,research university.

Mertz, B. E., & Atwood, S. A. (2012, June), Analysis of First-year Engineering Student Essays on Engineering Interests for Institutions of Different Carnegie Classifications Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20945

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