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Exploring the Motivations for Migration Among Engineering Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Understanding Our Students

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.689.1 - 22.689.10



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Paper Authors


Ida B. Ngambeki Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Ida Ngambeki is pursuing a doctorate in Engineering Education with a concentration in Ecological Sciences and Engineering at Purdue University. She has a B.S. in Engineering from Smith College. Her research interests include motivation, interest, career choice, engineering thinking, engineering and public policy and sustainability.

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Demetra Evangelou Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Demetra Evangelou is Assistant Professor of Engineering Education in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She has a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and international expertise in early childhood policy and research methods. Her current research focuses on developmental engineering, early education antecedents of engineering thinking, developmental factors in engineering pedagogy, technological literacy and human-artifact interactions. She is a member of Sigma Xi Science Honor Society and in 2009 he was awarded the prestigious NSF CAREER Award.

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Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by over $11.4 million from the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received the William Elgin Wickenden Award for the Best Paper in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and multiple conference Best Paper awards. Dr. Ohland is Chair of ASEE’s Educational Research and Methods division and an At-Large member the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Education Society. He was the 2002 – 2006 President of Tau Beta Pi.

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George D. Ricco Purdue University, West Lafayette

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George D. Ricco is a doctoral student in Purdue University's School of Engineering Education. He previously received an M.S. in Earth and Planetary Sciences studying geospatial imaging and an MS in Physics studying high-pressure, high-temperature FT-IR spectroscopy in heavy water, both from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has a B.S.E. in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Electrical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

His academic interests include longitudinal analysis, visualization, semantics, team formation, gender issues, existential phenomenology, and Lagomorph physiology.

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Exploring the motivations for migration among engineering studentsStudents often graduate from a major other than that in which they first enrolled. A largeproportion of this migration happens within engineering with students moving from onediscipline of engineering to another. This movement between disciplines sometimes happensseveral times. While there has been extensive examination of why students leave engineering,very little research has looked into why students leave one engineering discipline for another.Longitudinal data collected from several engineering colleges has shown that there are definitetrends within the movement of engineering students.This study examines the reasons for some of these trends using a unique approach whichcombines both environmental and personality factors. The study uses measures based on SocialCognitive Career Theory, which has previously been extensively utilized to explore vocationalchoice in engineering, in conjunction with measures of social influence, and personality toexplain disciplinary choices. In addition this study considers the climate students are exposed toin the various engineering disciplines. The intent is to create a model to connect themotivational, personality, and the climate variables in order to construct a clearer picture of howinternal and external factors come together to influence students’ vocational choices; specificallytheir decision to remain in engineering and to migrate from one engineering discipline toanother.This study uses a survey administered electronically to engineering students beyond theirsophomore year (to capture those who have had an opportunity to experience and evaluate theirmajor choice and possibly make changes) at a large engineering program. Data collection isongoing and will be completed within the next two months. The survey questions students abouttheir goals, their outcome expectations, their self-efficacy beliefs, and the barriers and supportsthey have encountered, their differential orientation to persons or things (believed to be highlypredictive of engineering attitudes), their locus of control, their agentic and communaldisposition, their orientation to engineering as a social system, basic measures of personality, andtheir perceptions of the engineering climate in their disciplines.The survey is expected to yield personality profiles of students in various disciplines, studentperceptions of the climate in various disciplines, motivation for migration among disciplines, aswell as which personality and environmental factors are most strongly predictive of persistencein engineering. Structural equation modeling will be used to explore the relationships among thevariables and develop a theory which would explain how these internal and external factorsresult in students’ choices.

Ngambeki, I. B., & Evangelou, D., & Ohland, M. W., & Ricco, G. D. (2011, June), Exploring the Motivations for Migration Among Engineering Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17970

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