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Engineering Student Involvement: Comparison of Two Dissimilar Institutions

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Undergraduate Student Issues: Persistence

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.519.1 - 23.519.14



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Paper Authors


Kerry Meyers Youngstown State University

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Dr. Meyers background is in Engineering Education with experience in programs that might influence an incoming student’s experience, affect retention rates and the factors that determine the overall long term success of students entering an engineering program. She is the Director of the STEM College’s First-Year Engineering Program, the entry point for all beginning engineering students designed to provide a smooth transition from high school to University. She previously served as the Director of the First-Year Engineering Program at the University of Notre Dame.

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Catherine F Pieronek University of Notre Dame

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Ms. Pieronek is Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering and a J.D. from Notre Dame and a master's degree in aerospace engineering from UCLA. Her research interests focus on the persistence of students, particularly women, in engineering.

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Leo H McWilliams University of Notre Dame

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Engineering Student Involvement: Comparison of Two Dissimilar InstitutionsEngineering education researchers focus on questions relating to educational and professionalpersistence in engineering. It is believed that increased student engagement leads to highereducational persistence. The current study focuses on one measure of student engagement – thatis, involvement in student organizations at two dissimilar universities. As we identify whobecomes involved with engineering organizations and how and why they became involved, wecan alter support structures to promote engagement and educational persistence.A cross-sectional study of engineering students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) at a medium-sized, Midwestern, private institution (religiously affiliated) was conducted during the fall of2011, and repeated at a medium-sized, Midwestern public institution (urban setting) in the fall of2012. The study involved an on-line survey completed by hundreds of engineering studentsacross the two institutions responding to questions about their extracurricular involvements bothwithin engineering and across the university as a whole. The reasons for getting involved witheach organization were probed and further, students were questioned if they ever consideredleaving engineering. The results are analyzed statistically with demographic and experientialquestions serving as critical co-variants in defining differences between students that aremembers/participants, leader/officers, and non-participants.Results from 2011 only at the Private Religious institution: Women and men respondents aswell as white and non-white respondents have experiences that are not all that different fromeach other, as indicated by their responses to the question of whether and when they consideredleaving engineering, and by the sources of encouragement and discouragement for persisting intheir engineering studies. Second, non-white respondents were found to be more involved thanthe collective engineering student body in engineering organizations and communityorganizations. Third, a statistically significant relationship exists between interest in engineeringand student consideration of leaving engineering, that is students who indicate their interest inengineering was an encouraging factor in continuing in engineering were less likely to indicatethey had considered leaving engineering. This relationship was consistent for both male andfemale students. And finally, students who planned to work in an engineering-related field aftergraduation were less likely to be involved with community organizations, while those whoconsidered leaving engineering were more likely to be involved in community organizationsinstead of engineering organizations.Results from the 2012 study at the urban public institution are forth coming and will becompared to those of the Private Religious institution’s results discussed above. 

Meyers, K., & Pieronek, C. F., & McWilliams, L. H. (2013, June), Engineering Student Involvement: Comparison of Two Dissimilar Institutions Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19533

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