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Critical GPA and Standardized Test Score Admission Thresholds

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track : Pre-College - Technical Session 10

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Pre-College

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Paper Authors


Beth A. Myers University of Colorado, Boulder

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Beth A. Myers is the Director of Analytics, Assessment and Accreditation at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a BA in biochemistry, ME in engineering management and PhD in civil engineering. Her interests are in quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis as related to equity in education.

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Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE). She has served as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education in the CEAE Department, as well as the ABET assessment coordinator. Professor Bielefeldt was also the faculty director of the Sustainable By Design Residential Academic Program, a living-learning community where interdisciplinary students learn about and practice sustainability. Bielefeldt serves as the chair of ASEE's Community Engagement Division and on the AAAS Committee for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. She is also a licensed P.E. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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Jacquelyn F. Sullivan University of Colorado, Boulder

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Jacquelyn Sullivan is founding co-director of the Engineering Plus degree program in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She spearheaded design and launch of the Engineering GoldShirt Program to provide a unique access pathway to engineering for high potential, next tier students not admitted through the standard admissions process; this program is now being adapted at several engineering colleges. Sullivan led the founding of the Precollege division of ASEE in 2004; was awarded NAE’s 2008 Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, and was conferred as an ASEE Fellow in 2011. She has served on multiple NAE committees, and on the NSF ENG division's Advisory Committee.

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Keywords: Undergraduate, Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Engineering

Abstract: We must increasingly engage and capitalize on the contributions of people from backgrounds underrepresented in engineering, especially women and people of color, if we are to educate enough engineers to meet demand and propel our nation’s competitiveness through an engineering workforce reflective of our nation’s diversity. This study focuses on broadening pathways into engineering, expanding both the diversity and size of the engineering student population. We hypothesized that engineering colleges’ over-reliance on standardized test scores in the admission process inadvertently denies admission to diverse students capable of becoming successful engineers. Using the Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD) database of 226,221 engineering students, an investigation of whether admission data supports using a singular combined threshold using both high school grade point average and standardized test scores, or whether the data suggests using another model for predicting success in engineering as measured by a six-year engineering graduation rate. Of the predictive models that spanned all 11 institutions, high school grade point average was the most influential in predicting six-year engineering graduation. The next influential variable in predicting six-year engineering graduation was the higher education institution or ethnicity—a finding that suggests that the best predictive admissions model is specific to an individual institution, not an across-institutional model. Standardized test score was the most significant predictor in only one of the 11 institutions when modeled separately and in three others after high school grade point average. In seven of the 11 institutions, test score was not found to be a significant predictor of six-year engineering graduation for underrepresented minority students. A better understanding of the admissions profile of each institution might help determine what other factors are at play. Other potential factors that come to mind are financial aid, first-generation college-attendance and socioeconomic status.

Myers, B. A., & Bielefeldt, A. R., & Sullivan, J. F. (2019, April), Critical GPA and Standardized Test Score Admission Thresholds Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

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: © 2019 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