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Do Diversity Policies Work? Considerations for the Retention of Underrepresented Students in Collegiate Aviation Programs

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Shannon McLoughlin Morrison Ohio State University

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Dr. Shannon McLoughlin Morrison is the Curriculum and Assessment Manager and Diversity Coordinator for the Center for Aviation Studies in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. She holds multiple Master’s degrees, one in educational psychology and philosophy and the other in public policy, from The Ohio State University. She earned her doctorate in educational studies with a focus on the history and philosophy of education. In addition, she has completed several graduate-level courses in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dr. Morrison’s public policy master’s thesis was a research study on diversity policy in the Center for Aviation Studies and whether or not that policy impacted students’ considerations for leaving the academic program. Her expertise is in curriculum development, especially as it pertains to women and underrepresented minorities in education. Dr. Morrison takes an interdisciplinary approach to research, using both qualitative and quantitative methods that were informed by her background in education and public policy.

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The primary purpose of this research paper is to assess the role of diversity and inclusion policies in collegiate students’ considerations for leaving an academic program. This research was derived from the increasing importance being placed on the implementation of diversity and inclusion policies across the aviation industry along with the need to increase the workforce.

In 2018 there are still fewer than 4% of women who hold an Airline Transport Certificate. This number does not include the lack of people of color who are pursuing careers as airline pilots. STEM based industries and collegiate programs are increasingly trying to change these numbers by creating and executing programs that are meant to recruit and retain a diverse student body. Due to the increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion policies, this paper seeks to address the following question: Do diversity and inclusion policies impact students’ considerations for leaving the aviation academic program?

This question was developed after a careful review of the existing research that has been conducted around issues of student retention and diversity of student body.

In order to address this research question, a Qualtrics survey was developed and administered to students in the Center for Aviation Studies who had identified as female, or of a racial/ethnic identity that is considered ‘underrepresented’ in the field of aviation. The data set included current and recent graduates as of spring semester 2018. Once the data was collected the results were applied to an ordered logit regression model to determine the level of significance that diversity policies have on considerations for leaving.

The major findings of this research paper support the existing research and literature on the importance of several variables, within the student experience, that have an influence upon students’ willingness to remain in an academic program.

The primary contribution of this paper is a reaffirmation of the existing research of the disconnect between theory and institutional practice when it comes to the impact of diversity and inclusion policies/programs on the collegiate student perspective. The student experience involves multiple variables that influence student perceptions. How these variables then best contribute to the design and implementation of diversity policy is still to be determined.

Ultimately this paper finds that it is necessary to continue to research and understand what variables impact students considerations for leaving a STEM based collegiate program. In the meantime, consideration should be given to develop diversity and inclusion policy that is more holistic and speaks to the entire student experience.

Morrison, S. M. (2019, June), Do Diversity Policies Work? Considerations for the Retention of Underrepresented Students in Collegiate Aviation Programs Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32672

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