June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.701.1 - 22.701.20
Facing our Retention Challenge: a Self-PortraitA 32% increase in engineering and engineering technology student enrollment over a five-yearperiod at a small, private university was offset by a concurrent decline in retention rate, to arecent low of 33%. This motivated a comprehensive study to identify and address underlyingcauses and contributing factors.An online survey was developed and administered to three cohorts of non-retained students, mostof whom had completed one year or less. These collectively indicated loss of interest ormotivation as their foremost academic reason for leaving (Figure 1). This was found to beconsistent with the published findings of studies conducted by several other institutions.To enable the selection of optimal “best practices” for enhancing first-year retention at thesubject university, various internal performance and predictor data were analyzed and interpretedin light of a broad external survey of causes, trends and curricular improvements. Over 75national publications from the most recent five years were examined to identify leading factors inengineering student retention, and to identify for possible adoption any measures that hadproduced two or more consecutive years of documented improvement.This paper describes and graphically illustrates the results of the leaver survey and self-study(see Figure 2), as well as the noteworthy findings of the literature survey. Several best practiceswere adopted and are now being implemented with support from an NSF STEP grant. Lost interest in / motivation to study engineering or 5× 3 3× 2 2×1 engineering technologyHad difficulty with coursework (academic performance) 2× 3 2× 2 3× 1 1st (most) 1×1 Uncertain of future career options 3× 2 2nd Initially majored in engineering or eng. tech. due to 3rd 1 × 3 1×2 2×1parental pressure and later decided it just wasn't for me 0 5 10 15 20 25 Influence Points (respondents × weight)Figure 1. Summary of some responses to the “why they left” question in the leaver survey. Figure 2. Effect of high school GPA on 1st semester GPA and eventual graduation.
Niemi, A. D., & Warke, R. W. (2011, June), Facing our Retention Challenge: a Self-Portrait Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17982
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