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First-time Academically Suspended Engineering (FASE) Undergraduate Outcomes: Two Engineering Undergraduate Programs Examining Trends of Over and Underrepresentation at the Intersection of Ethnicity and Sex

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Academic Success and Retention

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Lisa Lampe University of Virginia

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Lisa Lampe is the Director of Undergraduate Education in the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science, joining UVA in January 2014. Prior to that, she served in many roles that bridge student affairs and academic affairs including Student Services Specialist and Residence Dean at Stanford University, as well as Hall Director and Interim Area Coordinator for residential academic programs at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education at the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia.

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Megan Harris University of Colorado Boulder

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Megan has worked in higher education for 15 years, focusing on students success, retention, and graduation initiatives. Megan has focused on STEM students for 8 years, creating and implementing large student success programs at highly ranked engineering schools. Currently at the University of Colorado at Boulder College of Engineering, Megan's team focuses on innovation, culture change, and academic success for undergraduate students.

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Kayla Brooks University of Colorado Boulder

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Kayla Brooks is the Data Analyst for the College of Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, joining in April 2020. Before that, she worked in data-related roles, including Program Evaluator at Vantage Evaluation, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator at One Earth Future Foundation, and Professional Research Assistant at the University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus.

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This works in progress described inequity of first-time academically suspended engineers’ (FASE) outcomes at the intersection of ethnicity and sex. Outcomes included return from suspension and graduation rates. The rationale for this study was based on a long history of higher education inequity in retention and graduation rates and to kick start a future examination of how suspension policies and institutional environments shaped those outcomes. A recent report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center explained of those who started an undergraduate degree in the US, only 55 percent completed that degree in six years [1]. A 25-percentage point gap in completion rates existed between Black and White students in four-year public institutions [2]. Within engineering, this gap furthers economic inequality and hinders our ability to meet industry demand for diverse engineering talent [3]. Student retention researchers suggested we examine teaching methods, financial supports, and educational policy to mitigate student departure and promote academic success [4]. Note that these points of examination are institutional and not student level factors. Publications have been plentiful on improving pedagogy and addressing student financial constraints with little examining educational policy outcomes [5]. Our sample included undergraduates matriculated at two selective engineering programs – (A) mid-western and (B) mid-Atlantic, both Predominantly White Institutions (PWI). Students were admitted between Fall 2009 to Fall 2018 with term data from Fall 2009 to Spring 2019. There were 1,199 FASE students among the 20,043 undergraduates in our sample. So, six percent were suspended (eight percent at A and two percent at B). Before unmasking student characteristics, we must stress the use of this data was to hold institutions accountable for inequitable outcomes, focusing on potential institutional factors and not students as the deficit. We must all reflect on how our houses are designed rather than who we invite into them and examine racism within the environment and policies [6]. Specific to the engineering context, at one institution we found Asian males were four percent overrepresented among FASE students and slightly, 1.5 percent, underrepresented among returners. Out of 1,503 Asian males, 109 were suspended, and only 23 returned. Across both institutions, two results were consistent with the non-engineering specific literature. Black FASE student were overrepresented as compared to percentage enrolled, with a more magnified inequitable outcome among Black males. Black males were the second most overrepresented group among those suspended, compared to percent enrolled. Also consistent with literature, White students were underrepresented among those academically suspended, with a more magnified outcome among White females. White females were seven percent underrepresented among those suspended, compared to percentage enrolled. We unmasked FASE ethnicity and sex to serve as a baseline and example for other institutions. To build off of these descriptive statistics of FASE undergraduates, our four recommendations suggested future work based on Critical Race Theory (CRT) to lead to greater equity in engineering graduation rates [7]. First, we focused on institutions and policies as the deficit instead of students. Second, future research will require a longitudinal multi-institutional dataset with contextual knowledge of shifts in policies and cultural factors. Third, interdisciplinary expertise will be needed to examine how institutions play a role in student motivation and persistence. Fourth, for future research to be worthwhile, we must partner with administrators and policy makers at the institutional, state and federal level to be accountable and make change to drive equitable graduation outcomes. Academic suspension remains a high stakes policy for students and their families and demands not only examination but change.

Lampe, L., & Harris, M., & Brooks, K. (2021, July), First-time Academically Suspended Engineering (FASE) Undergraduate Outcomes: Two Engineering Undergraduate Programs Examining Trends of Over and Underrepresentation at the Intersection of Ethnicity and Sex Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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