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Help Seeking Behavior Among Freshmen Engineering Students: A Predictor Of Calculus Performance

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.682.1 - 11.682.7



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Paper Authors


David Thompson Oklahoma State University

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Academic background:
Ph.D., Agricultural Engineering, Michigan State University.
M.S. Agricultural Engineering, Purdue University.
B.S. Agricultural Engineering, Purdue University.

David R. Thompson has expertise in the education and continuing education of engineers and in the storage, handling and processing of food. In his present position, his scholarly work has focused on student success and retention in engineering, engineering technology and architecture. He has extensive experience in the thermal processing and freezing of foods with emphasis on the microbial and chemical changes occurring during processing and storage. His international experience includes assignments in institution building, research and education in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

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Mwarumba Mwavita Oklahoma State University

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



This study examined whether help-seeking behaviors among engineering students at a large Midwestern University predicted success in an entry level calculus course. Two hundred and ninety five freshmen engineering students enrolled in an entry level calculus course participated in the study. Bivariate correlation between help-seeking behavior and calculus course grade was statistically significant at alpha = .05. Regression analysis indicated that help-seeking behavior was significant predictor of calculus performance. Implications of this study are also discussed in relationship to student advising.


Core courses in engineering programs have been found to play a significant role in influencing retention among engineering students.1,2 These core courses in most cases are foundational and engineering students take them prior to admission to specific engineering program. Success on these foundational or entry level courses is therefore paramount to continued progress toward completion to an engineering degree. Studies have continued to investigate factors influencing success in the entry level courses.1,2,3,4,5

One of the foundation and entry course required for all engineering majors is calculus. Engineering students take this course during their first year of college. In order to continue in the engineering program, students are expected to pass this course, otherwise they may have to retake or drop from the program.

Many studies have focused on academic factors influencing students’ success in engineering core courses. These studies have divided the factors as academic and non- academic. For instance, prior educational background as measured by high school GPA, ACT, SAT, to name a few have been found to predict success in both core courses.6 Other studies identified the type of mathematics and science courses taken prior to college as predictors of students’ success in engineering programs.7

Despite the usefulness of these academic factors, there have been many instances that these factors have not predicted success as well as retention in engineering programs. For example, academic factors have been found in other studies to inaccurately eliminate minority students in engineering programs.5 As a result a lot of engineering programs in the country have come up with Minority Enrichment Programs (MEPs), summer bridge programs to name just a few to address this issue. Success of these alternate programs to addressing the problem of retention of engineering students has prompted research factors other than academic that influence success as well as retention of engineering students.

Thompson, D., & Mwavita, M. (2006, June), Help Seeking Behavior Among Freshmen Engineering Students: A Predictor Of Calculus Performance Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--548

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