Asee peer logo

Factors Influencing Course Withdrawal in Fundamental Engineering Courses in a Research 1 University

Download Paper |

Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 9: Persistence and Retention

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

13

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32834

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32834

Download Count

234

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Johnny C. Woods, Jr. Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5430-9327

visit author page

Johnny C. Woods, Jr. is a Higher Education PhD Student at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. He obtained his master’s in Educational Foundations from Makerere University (Uganda), and a bachelor’s in Sociology from A.M.E. Zion University College (Liberia). Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he served at Tubman University (Liberia) for 10 years in several capacities, including his last position as Chief of Staff to the University President and Liaison to the University's Board of Trustees. At Virginia Tech, he also serves as Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Engineering Education. His research interests are: Higher Education Finance and Administration; STEM Education; Migration and Immigration issues in education; and Quality Assurance.

visit author page

biography

Tahsin Mahmud Chowdhury Virginia Tech

visit author page

Tahsin Mahmud Chowdhury is a PhD student at Virginia Tech in the department of Engineering Education. Tahsin holds a BSc. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from IUT, Dhaka and has worked as a manufacturing professional at a Fortune 500 company. He is actively engaged in different projects at the department involving teamwork, communication and capstone design with a focus on industrial engineering practice.

visit author page

biography

Homero Murzi Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3849-2947

visit author page

Homero Murzi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Industrial Engineering (BS, MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and in Engineering Education (PhD). Homero has 15 years of international experience working in industry and academia. His research focuses on contemporary and inclusive pedagogical practices, industry-driven competency development in engineering, and understanding the barriers that Latinx and Native Americans have in engineering. Homero has been recognized as a Diggs scholar, a Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence fellow, a Diversity scholar, a Fulbright scholar and was inducted in the Bouchet Honor Society.

visit author page

biography

Michelle Soledad Virginia Tech, Ateneo de Davao University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2491-6684

visit author page

Michelle Soledad is the Director for Communications and International Engagement in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds degrees degrees in Electrical Engineering (BS, ME) from the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) in Davao City, Philippines, and in Engineering Education (PhD) from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include faculty development and data-informed reflective practice. Michelle's professional experience includes roles in industry and academia, having worked as a software engineer, project lead and manager before becoming Assistant Professor and Department Chair for Electrical Engineering at the Ateneo de Davao University.

visit author page

biography

David B. Knight Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4576-2490

visit author page

David B. Knight is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head of Graduate Programs in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is also Director of International Engagement in Engineering Education, directs the Rising Sophomore Abroad Program, and is affiliate faculty with the Higher Education Program. His research tends to be at the macro-scale, focused on a systems-level perspective of how engineering education can become more effective, efficient, and inclusive, tends to be data-driven by leveraging large-scale institutional, state, or national data sets, and considers the intersection between policy and organizational contexts. He has B.S., M.S., and M.U.E.P. degrees from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University.

visit author page

biography

Jacob R. Grohs Virginia Tech

visit author page

Jacob Grohs is an Assistant Professor in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech with Affiliate Faculty status in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics and the Learning Sciences and Technologies at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Engineering Mechanics (BS, MS) and in Educational Psychology (MAEd, PhD).

visit author page

biography

Scott W. Case Virginia Tech

visit author page

Scott W. Case is the Reynolds Metals Professor of Engineering Mechanics at Virginia Tech. He has served as associate department head of Engineering Science and Mechanics and as Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs within the College of Engineering.

visit author page

biography

Natasha Smith Virginia Tech

visit author page

Natasha is the Director of Enrollment Management for the College of Engineering as well as the Associate Director of Advising in the Department of Engineering Education, which is home to all General Engineering students. These dual roles allow Natasha the unique opportunity to understand and articulate viewpoints of both administration and students.

Natasha strives to implement innovative and systematic technological advances to academic advising and enrollment management.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

Engineering students develop competencies in fundamental engineering courses (FECs) that are critical for success later in advanced courses and engineering practice. Literature on the student learning experience, however, associate these courses with challenging educational environments (e.g., large class sizes) and low student success rates. Challenging educational environments are particularly prevalent in large, research-intensive institutions. To address concerns associated with FECs, it is important to understand prevailing educational environments in these courses and identify critical points where improvement and change is needed.

The Academic Plan Model provides a systematic way to critically examine the factors that shape the educational environment. It includes paths for evaluation and adjustment, allowing educational environments to continuously improve. The Model may be applied to various levels in an institution (e.g., course, program, college), implying that a student’s entire undergraduate learning experience is the result of several enacted academic plans that are interacting with each other. Thus, understanding context-specific factors in a specific educational environment will yield valuable information affecting the undergraduate experience, including concerns related to attrition and persistence. In order to better understand why students are not succeeding in large foundational engineering courses, we developed a form to collect data on why students withdraw from certain courses. The form was included as a requirement during the withdrawal process.

In this paper, we analyzed course withdrawal data from several academic departments in charge of teaching large foundational engineering courses, and institutional transcript data for the Spring 2018 semester. The withdrawal dataset includes the final grades that students expected to receive in the course and the factors that influenced their decision to withdraw. Institutional transcript data includes demographic information (e.g., gender, major), admissions data (e.g., SAT scores, high school GPA), and institutional academic information (e.g., course grades, cumulative GPA). Results provide a better understanding of the main reasons students decide to withdraw from a course, including having unsatisfactory grades, not understanding the professor, and being overwhelmed with work. We also analyzed locus of control for the responses, finding that the majority of students withdrawing courses consider that the problem is outside of their control and comes from an external source. We provide analysis by different departments and different specific courses. Implications for administrators, practitioners, and researchers are provided.

Woods, Jr., J. C., & Chowdhury, T. M., & Murzi, H., & Soledad, M., & Knight, D. B., & Grohs, J. R., & Case, S. W., & Smith, N. (2019, June), Factors Influencing Course Withdrawal in Fundamental Engineering Courses in a Research 1 University Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32834

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: © 2019 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