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Assessing Peer Attitudes Among Stem Students And The Potential Effects On The Retention Of Minorities In Stem Programs

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

New Research on Retention of URM Groups in STEM

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.242.1 - 14.242.7



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Paper Authors


Fredericka Brown University of Texas, Tyler

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Dr. Brown currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Tyler. Her research interests include bioheat transfer, thermal comfort, and engineering education.

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Kristian Trampus University of Texas, Tyler

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Ms. Trampus currently serves as the Director of the East Texas STEM Center at The University of Texas at Tyler. Her research interests include metacognition, educational technology, the education of historically under-served populations and STEM education.

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Michael Odell University of Texas, Tyler

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Dr. Odell currently serves as the Director of the School of Education and the Cecelia and Sam Roosth Chair in Education. His research interests include Earth Systems, Space Science, Engineering Education, Online Learning, Design, and Integration of Technology into Teaching.

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

Session XXXX

Assessing Peer Attitudes Among STEM Students and The Potential Effects on the Retention of Minorities in STEM Programs


Numerous national policy papers and studies have reported that the continued lack of recruitment and retention in STEM fields among historically under-represented populations has a serious impact on the economic well being of the United States and its citizenry. Much attention has been paid to the attitudes and interests of minority students regarding their desire to pursue postsecondary education in STEM as well as their persistence in these efforts. In addition, various efforts have been made to increase the recruitment and retention of these populations through outreach programs, mentoring, and summer activities. Less attention has been paid to the pervasive attitudes and actions of their peers within the STEM fields and throughout the STEM pipeline and how these attitudes may have a deleterious effect on the retention rate of minorities in STEM programs over time.

Faculty in the College of Engineering and Computer Science in partnership with faculty in the College of Education and Psychology at the University have begun to assess the attitudes and opinions of STEM students about themselves and about their peers with regards to ability and persistence in STEM education and how these attitudes and opinions might affect others in their peer group longitudinally. Students in freshmen engineering courses, senior level high school courses, and middle school science courses have participated in an extensive survey to assess their current status in STEM coursework, intentions regarding their future in STEM education, and their attitudes and opinions about the coursework and participation of their STEM peers.

This paper describes the results of this preliminary survey assessment within and across the selected grade bands and the implications of these results on efforts to refine recruitment and retention among minorities.


Engineers Dedicated to a Better Tomorrow identified engineering as an academic field lagging in achieving racial and gender diversity in their graduating baccalaureate classes [1]. It was noted that there was substantial under-representation of blacks and Native Americans in engineering. According to the annual Survey of the American Freshman, National Norms, for the last two decades about one-third of freshmen entering college planned to study STEM [2]. In 2006, 44.7% of Asian freshmen, 34% of Black freshmen, 35.9% of Hispanic of Mexican/Chicano/Puerto Rican descent freshman, 34.4% of American Indian freshmen, and 29.5% of White freshmen reported that they intended to major in STEM [2]. These numbers represent an increasing trend of a diverse demographic composition of students planning to major in STEM.

Proceedings of the 2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition

Copyright © 2009, American Society for Engineering Education

Brown, F., & Trampus, K., & Odell, M. (2009, June), Assessing Peer Attitudes Among Stem Students And The Potential Effects On The Retention Of Minorities In Stem Programs Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5620

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015