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Freshman Engineering Student Success Indicators Ii

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.578.1 - 7.578.17



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Walker

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Patrick Devens

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Session 2793

Freshman Engineering Student Success Indicators II

Patrick E. Devens, Thomas D. Walker Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University


Every year, up to 1300 freshman engineering students from around the world arrive at Virginia Tech's1 College of Engineering with varying backgrounds, experiences, and degrees of academic expertise. Many fail to meet first year engineering expectations even though college entrance requirements have increased. The question is why and how can the college improve retention?

This paper provides results of a study of first year engineering students at Virginia Tech. The purpose of the study is to attempt to discern student success predictors so that appropriate interventions / corrective actions can be taken to increase retention in the program. The study includes the analysis of student Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and performance on a baseline math test. This data is then compared with student first semester engineering course grades. Last year, the correlation between final course grades and student SAT scores were presented. This year, the correlation between final course grades and student performance on the baseline math test are addressed. Overall student performance in the initial freshman-engineering course is analyzed in addition to female, Afro-American, and Hispanic subgroups. The goal of the study is to better accommodate student needs by identifying how to allocate existing resources more effectively.

I. Introduction

Significant numbers of freshman engineering students at Virginia Tech do not perform at a satisfactory level in their first semester engineering course. The questions are, "Why?" and "How can the college increase retention of the students without decreasing performance standards?" To help answer these questions, the Engineering Fundamentals Division (EF) performed an analysis of freshman-engineering student performance during their first engineering course and on two tests. The tests are the national SAT test and in-house developed mathematics pre & post tests. The objective is to identify trends and/or indicators of poor student performance that can facilitate the development of programs to increase student performance and subsequent retention.

An analysis of Virginia Tech student SAT scores versus first engineering course performance is presented in "Freshman Engineering Student Success Indicators".2 The study shows that a student's total SAT score is not a reliable predictor of their introductory freshman engineering course performance. This conclusion supports Gilbert's 1960 report that " . . . scores on the SAT-V, SAT-M, and the Advanced Mathematics Test and scores on a science test (Physics and Chemistry) do not seem to Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright O 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Walker, T., & Devens, P. (2002, June), Freshman Engineering Student Success Indicators Ii Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11366

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