June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Women in Engineering
22.722.1 - 22.722.14
First Year Women on the Engineering Pathway: Research Strategies to Support Retention_________________ has a K-16 organizational structure devoted to increasing the representationand retention through graduation of students who are underrepresented in engineering, includingwomen, students of color, low income and first- generation college attendees. A focus ofconcern is the declining retention rate of women that has dipped below that of men in our collegefor the past two years. The focus of the present study is the retention of women in their first yearof study in engineering, with comparisons to male students, upper division women and womenwho have left the college.The method for the present study makes use of two surveys and focus groups to investigate thefirst year experience. The surveys were administered in the spring of 2009 and 2010. One survey,referred to as the ‘Women’s Survey,’ was distributed to all undergraduate engineering women inthe college of engineering and incorporates scales from the Assessing Women in Engineering(AWE) assessments and from the Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey(APPLES). A second survey, referred to as the ‘First-Year Survey,’ was distributed to men andwomen who are all first year students. These surveys were followed with five focus groups todive deeper into research questions.Six research questions were posed for the current study: • Do women express a loss of interest during the first year of the program? • Is there a chilly climate for first-year women in the college? • Do women’s self-efficacy levels change during the first year of the program? • Do academic performance levels play a role in women’s retention in engineering after the first year? • Do women have an adequate support structures in the college during the first year? • Does the structure of the academic program instill career awareness in the first year?The women’s survey generated 404 responses from two solicitations, with women representedfrom every major across all four undergraduate years. The first year drew responses from 541first year students. This paper offers insight into our first year women’s self-efficacy and theirviews on the college climate, the benefits from various support systems – advising, mentoring,housing, social and financial – and the existing programming (academic and extracurricular) thatcan play a role in their retention in engineering.The results will compare the self-efficacy, career awareness, interest and academic performanceof first year men and women who both stayed in or left engineering. Examples of factors thatimpact retention for first year students will be presented. The paper will discuss strategies toreduce attrition and bolster academic success.
Knight, D., & Louie, B., & Glogiewicz, L. M. (2011, June), First-Year Women on the Engineering Pathway: Research Strategies to Support Retention Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18003
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