Asee peer logo

Experiences of International and Domestic Students in the First Two Years of Undergraduate Engineering Programs

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.572.1 - 24.572.13



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Irene B Mena Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Irene B. Mena has a B.S. and M.S. in industrial engineering, and a Ph.D. in engineering education. Her research interests include first-year engineering and graduate student professional development.

visit author page


Thomas A. Litzinger Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Thomas Litzinger is Director of the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State, where he has been on the faculty since 1985. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton in 1986. His work in engineering education involves teaching and learning innovations, curricular change, faculty development, and assessment. He also teaches and conducts research in combustion and thermal sciences. He is Fellow of ASEE and ASME, and he serves as an Associate Editor of Advances in Engineering Education. He can be contacted at

visit author page


Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Dr. Sarah Zappe is Research Associate and Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She holds a doctoral degree in educational psychology emphasizing applied measurement and testing. In her position, Sarah is responsible for developing instructional support programs for faculty, providing evaluation support for educational proposals and projects, and working with faculty to publish educational research. Her research interests primarily involve creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


  Experiences of international and domestic students in the first  two years of undergraduate engineering programs  Increasing numbers of students from outside the U.S. are matriculating into undergraduate engineering programs.   National data published recently in ASEE PRISM show that the percentage of international undergraduate engineering students rose from 5.32% in 2007 to 8.56%.  Data at individual institutions vary substantially from the national averages with some reporting that more than 20% of their first‐year undergraduate engineering students are international.  Many of the international students come from countries whose educational systems are quite different than those in the U.S.  Consequently, these students may encounter difficulty because they are not accustomed to the type of learning environments that exist in the U.S.   Highly interactive courses such as design courses with team projects can be a particular challenge for some international students.    The College of Engineering at a mid‐Atlantic research university has experienced an increase in the fraction of international students that parallels the national trends.  In 2007, the percentage of first‐year engineering students from outside the U.S. was 3.2%; by 2012, it had risen to 10.7%.   Because of the increasing enrollment of international students and because of increasing numbers of first year students, up by nearly 30% between 2007 and 2012, the College of Engineering initiated a longitudinal study of the experiences, perceptions and beliefs of its undergraduate students.     This paper will compare responses of U.S. and international students to surveys administered to the same cohort of students in their first and second years. 401 responses were obtained to the first‐year survey and 364 to the second‐year survey; international students represented approximately 10% of the responses. The survey administered to first‐year students included items related to engineering identity as well as beliefs and perceptions related to Engineer of 2020 attributes including team work, leadership and creative problem‐solving.  The survey administered to second‐year explored aspects of the learning environment including level of challenge, quality of instruction, and interaction with other students and with faculty.  The second year survey also included some items from the first‐year survey related to engineering identity and creative problem solving.  

Mena, I. B., & Litzinger, T. A., & Zappe, S. E. (2014, June), Experiences of International and Domestic Students in the First Two Years of Undergraduate Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20463

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015