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Enhancing Engineering Student Success: Working With Students To Change Their Attitudes

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.261.1 - 3.261.8

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Paper Authors

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Edward N. Prather

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Raymond B. Landis

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2653

Enhancing Engineering Student Success: Working With Students to Change Their Attitudes Raymond B Landis, Edward N. Prather California State University, Los Angeles/University of Cincinnati

INTRODUCTION The need to bring about greater success on the part of engineering students is not the topic of this paper. The fact that we do is assumed to be self-evident. We only have to consider the anecdotal statements of engineering professors that “students aren’t what they used to be,” or measure our graduates against the outcomes established by the new ABET Engineering Criteria 2000,1 or look at the low transfer rates of students who start engineering study in community colleges, or look at the differentially low retention of minority students (African-American, Hispanic, and Native American) to convince ourselves that there is lots of room for improvement. If that’s not enough, we can always take the TQM view that “no matter how good we are doing, we should always strive to be better.” An Introduction to Engineering course with a primary focus on “student development” can provide an ideal vehicle for working with first year engineering students to enhance their chances of success. A Student Success Model (Figure 1), taken from Chapter 4 of Landis’ text Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a Rewarding Career,2 suggests three steps in this process: 1. Strengthen students commitment to the goal of success in engineering study 2. Change student behaviors to those that will bring about that success 3. Change student attitudes to those that will lead to those behaviors These steps to success are much better said in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.5:3 You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny. Previous papers by the first author have addressed Steps 1 and 2. In his 1996 paper,4 Landis provides a practical guide to strengthening students’ commitment to engineering study. In his 1997 paper5 (Republished in edited form in the November, 1997 issue of PRISM magazine6), Landis presents a five-step approach that has proven highly effective in changing engineering student behaviors. The purpose of this paper is to describe approaches which have proven effective in accomplishing the third step in the process, i.e., working with first year engineering students to adjust their attitudes to those that will contribute to their success as engineering students.

Prather, E. N., & Landis, R. B. (1998, June), Enhancing Engineering Student Success: Working With Students To Change Their Attitudes Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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