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Effect of Student-Centered Programs on Retention of Engineering Students

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 10: Paying Attention to Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

12

Page Numbers

26.578.1 - 26.578.12

DOI

10.18260/p.23916

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/23916

Download Count

100

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Paper Authors

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John Ernzen Arizona State University

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John Ernzen is a graduate student pursuing his Ph.D. in Education Policy and Evaluation though the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Previously, he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Engineering in biomedical engineering from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, also at Arizona State University. His research interests include factors that affect perception and retention within engineering communities as well as the standards involved in designing engineering curricula. He is currently conducting research on an NSF project led by Dr. Stephen Krause, focused on the factors that promote persistence and success for undergraduate engineering students.

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Eugene Judson Arizona State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-0124-8476

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Eugene Judson is an Associate Professor of for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. His past experiences include having been a middle school science teacher, Director of Academic and Instructional Support for the Arizona Department of Education, a research scientist for the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (CRESMET), and an evaluator for several NSF projects. His first research strand concentrates on the relationship between educational policy and STEM education. This provides policymakers and the educational community an improved understanding of how changes in educational policies impact STEM teaching and learning. His second research strand focuses on studying STEM classroom interactions and subsequent effects on student understanding. He is a co-developer of the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) and his work has been cited more than 1200 times and his publications have been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals such as Science Education and the Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

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Stephen J Krause Arizona State University

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Stephen Krause is professor in the Materials Science Program in the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches in the areas of introductory materials engineering, polymers and composites, and capstone design. His research interests include evaluating conceptual knowledge, misconceptions and technologies to promote conceptual change. He has co-developed a Materials Concept Inventory and a Chemistry Concept Inventory for assessing conceptual knowledge and change for introductory materials science and chemistry classes. He is currently conducting research on NSF projects in two areas. One is studying how strategies of engagement and feedback with support from internet tools and resources affect conceptual change and associated impact on students' attitude, achievement, and persistence. The other is on the factors that promote persistence and success in retention of undergraduate students in engineering. He was a coauthor for best paper award in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2013.

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James Collofello Arizona State University

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Ying-Chih Chen Arizona State University

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Ying-Chih Chen is an assistant professor in the Division of Teacher Preparation at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

His research takes two distinct but interrelated paths focused on elementary students’ learning in science and engineering as well as in-service science teachers’ professional development. The first focus involves how language as a learning tool improves students’ conceptual understandings, literacy, and representation competencies in science. His second research focus is on how in-service teachers develop their knowledge for teaching science and engineering in argument-based inquiry classrooms. This research is aimed at developing measures of teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) for adopting the argument-based inquiry approach, as well as developing tools to capture the interactive nature of PCK.

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Kendra Rae Beeley

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Robert J Culbertson Physics Department, Arizona State University

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Robert J. Culbertson is an Associate Professor of Physics. Currently, he teaches introductory mechanics and electrodynamics for physics majors and a course in musical acoustics, which was specifically designed for elementary education majors. He is director of the ASU Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) Project, which strives to produce more and better high school physics teachers. He is also director of Master of Natural Science degree program, a graduate program designed for in-service science teachers. He works on improving persistence of students in STEM majors, especially under-prepared students and students from under-represented groups.

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Abstract

Effect of Student-Centered Programs on Retention of Engineering StudentsBackground/RationaleRecent research indicates that engineering students leave the major at a rate similar to studentsenrolled in the humanities, business, and education (Chen, 2013). However, this provides littlesolace since engineering is the field least selected by students changing majors. This dilemma ofhigh attrition coupled with low matriculation leads to the need to place high priority on retention.Attrition issues are often ascribed to multiple factors, including course load, poor instruction, anda student’s sense of belonging within the discipline (Matthews, 2012; Seymour, 2006). This studyfocused on this final concern regarding belonging, examining if reforms, designed to addressbelonging, could affect retention within a large engineering college at a public university in theSouthwestern United States.Beginning in the late 1990s the college instituted various strategies to address attrition ofengineering students. Many of these focused on ASEE best practices including elucidatingprograms of study and adjusting advising procedures. Although the reforms were not alwaysconsistent across engineering disciplines, the college did experience incremental growth inretention rates.In 2007 a more concerted retention effort was made. To that date, reforms implemented wereconsidered programmatic but did not systematically address students’ sense of belonging. Tocombat this, the college instituted systemic changes addressing students’ feelings of displacementas first- and second-year engineering students.This new suite of strategies included 1) Co-Curricular Experiences: undergraduate researchopportunities, freshmen engineering summer camps, and professional student societies, 2) CourseCurricular Experiences: student success course for all students and a revised introduction toengineering course, and 3) Student Support Programs: upper-division engineering students as peermentors and undergraduate teaching assistants, an engineering-specific tutoring center, andfreshmen engineering residential communities.MethodTo evaluate the effects of the reforms that were initiated in the 2007-08 academic year, aninterrupted time series approach was utilized. Enrollment and retention data were available from1998 through 2013. A quasi-experiment of comparing retention of incoming freshmen engineeringstudents from their first semester to the beginning of their junior year was applied. This yielded asequence of nine pre-intervention two-year cohorts that were compared to five post-interventioncohorts.Trends were first evaluated among the engineering students as a whole. Further, to determine ifreform efforts had particular effect on sub-groups, data were disaggregated and analyzed by genderand ethnicity. In all cases, retention rate was the relevant measurement. Mean retention rates (i.e.,slope) were compared and evaluated to determine if change, such as abrupt change or delayedchange occurred (Glass, 1997).ResultsIt was evident there existed an overall 14-year upward trend in the proportion of freshmenengineering students who persisted in the major through their junior year (Table 1). This was trueboth pre- and post-intervention. Although, in many cases the trend was not significantly differentfollowing institution of the reforms.Over the 14 year period, retention rate, as represented by linear regression, increased at an averagerate of 1.1 percent per year. Figure 1 depicts the shift in retention rate growth followingintroduction of the student-centered programs. Prior to reforms, the increase in freshmen persistingin engineering until their junior year increased at an average of 0.9 percent per year. Followingintervention, the trajectory of retention rates shifted to 1.6 percent per year. This occurred while atthe same time the incoming freshman class increased from an average of 774 to 957 students.Examination of data, based on gender, indicated that overall retention rates continued to risefollowing implementation of the suite of belonging-based reforms for both men and women.Similarly, retention rates of underrepresented minorities (URM) (i.e., American Indian, Black,Hispanic) continued to exhibit an overall upward trend. However, subgroup analysis did not revealthe same type of abrupt change as did examination of aggregate data.ConclusionsThe reforms were instituted not to address a lagging retention rate. Rather, reforms were launchedduring a period when retention rates had experienced overall steady increase. The concern wasthat retention would soon reach a ceiling, if not decline. Therefore, a linear progression toward100% retention was not the realistic goal. Instead, the objective was to maintain momentum bypromoting belonging among engineering students. As is, these data provide inconclusive results.While we can say that retention rates did experience substantial change overall, the interventionyear did not result in a polynomial transition for all subgroups. 60 55 PRE: y = 0.93x + 43.0 50 POST: y = 1.61x + 50.6 % 45 40 35Figure 1. Engineering students retained in major

Ernzen, J., & Judson, E., & Krause, S. J., & Collofello, J., & Chen, Y., & Beeley, K. R., & Culbertson, R. J. (2015, June), Effect of Student-Centered Programs on Retention of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23916

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