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Factors Influencing Freshmen Retention In Engineering Programs

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.567.1 - 8.567.6



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Paper Authors

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Rufus Carter

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Tim Anderson

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Marc Hoit

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

Session 2793

Factors Influencing Freshmen Retention in Engineering Programs

Rufus L. Carter, Marc Hoit, and Tim Anderson

Educational Psychology Department, University of Florida / College of Engineering, University of Florida / Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida


Student retention in engineering has long been an important issue for engineering educators. Despite improved recruiting practices and expanded first year programs , students are leaving the engineering disciplines and choosing other college majors. This study examines freshmen responses to 51 questions designed to assess their attitudes and opinions regarding their first semester experience in engineering. This survey was first piloted and addresses factors of motivation, time conflicts, family support, academic preparedness, and academic progress. The database contains responses from 1060 students’ responses from 2 colleges of engineering.


Less than 50% of students beginning in engineering continue in engineering and half of those leave during the freshmen year (Besterfield-Sacre, 1997) 1. In engineering, the annual graduation rate decreased by approximately 20 percent in the 1980’s. (Board of Engineering Education-National Research Council, 1992) 2 Astin (1993) 3 found that only 43% of the first–year engineering students in his population graduated in engineering.

Seymour and Hewitt (1994) 4 examined engineering and science majors. Those science or engineering students that changed their major were found to be similar in attributes and ability. Their findings indicated that most students who changed from engineering or science to another major had the ability to understand science and math, as well as the drive to work hard. Their assertion was that switchers and non-switchers faced the same set of problems but differed in the strategies they employed to solve these problems.

Besterfield- Sacre, et al. (1997) 1 developed the Pittsburgh Freshmen Engineering Attitudes Survey. This survey indicated that students leaving engineering often were not that different from those who stayed with regard to academic performance. Through use of a logistical regression model they1 were able to predict students who may potentially leave engineering in good standing.


“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Carter, R., & Anderson, T., & Hoit, M. (2003, June), Factors Influencing Freshmen Retention In Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12020

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