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Developing Retention Strategies For Women That Promote Student Success In Engineering And The Applied Sciences

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.209.1 - 5.209.7



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Shawna L. Fletcher

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Mary Anderson-Rowland

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Session 1392

Developing Retention Strategies for Women that Promote Student Success in Engineering and the Applied Sciences Shawna Fletcher, Dr. Mary Anderson-Rowland Women in Applied Science and Engineering Program, Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85287-5506


The Women in Applied Science and Engineering (WISE) Student Success Program was designed as a comprehensive approach to increase the retention of female undergraduate students in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) at Arizona State University (ASU). Goals of the program include establishing contact with at-risk female engineering students, providing information on college and university resources, improving students’ GPA for current and future semesters, and ensuring that the students achieve semester goals by maintaining personal contact.

Initially, sixteen female engineering students were involved in the Spring 1999 pilot program. The pilot cohort consisted of eight different engineering disciplines with Fall 1998 cumulative GPA ranging from 1.72 to 2.69. After individual interviews, students expressed three main concerns: financial aid/scholarships, tutoring resources, and the formation of effective contacts with other engineering students and professors. Overall program results indicate that 64% of the students showed an increase in their Spring 1999 semester GPA and 79% improved their cumulative GPA. Although results are preliminary, data received from the pilot program indicate that the student success program was effective.

An overview of the WISE Student Success Program will be presented and will include a discussion of the need for and impact of retention programs specifically geared toward female engineering students. In addition, future projections of implementation and direction of WISE student retention programs will be discussed.

I. Introduction

Nationally, less than half of all engineering freshman graduate with an engineering degree. According to statistics at Arizona State University (ASU), less than 66% of freshman engineering students (male and female) are retained in engineering beyond their first year [1]. For both men and women, issues concerning first-year retention include difficulty in the transition from high school to college, financial problems, and general misinformation about the engineering curriculum. However, studies have indicated that women are more prone than men to dropout due to ancillary issues concerning family, lack of female role models, and personal dissatisfaction with grades. In addition, women are more likely to enter into engineering uninformed of the challenges associated with their curricula as well as incurring these additional obstacles not experienced by their male counterparts [2]. Because of these factors, many female students dropout of engineering or choose to change their majors to other disciplines without

Fletcher, S. L., & Anderson-Rowland, M. (2000, June), Developing Retention Strategies For Women That Promote Student Success In Engineering And The Applied Sciences Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8284

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