June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002
June 19, 2002
7.619.1 - 7.619.14
Identifying Factors Influencing Engineering Student Graduation and Retention: A Longitudinal and Cross-Institutional Study Guili Zhang, Tim Anderson, Matthew Ohland, Rufus Carter and Brian Thorndyke Educational Psychology Department, University of Florida / Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida / Department of General Engineering, Clemson University / Educational Psychology Department, University of Florida / Department of Physics, University of Florida
Abstract In this study, pre-existing factors are quantitatively evaluated as to their influence on student success. This study uses a database of all engineering students in the time period 1987 through 2000 and considers two definitions of success. The first, graduation, is defined as graduation in an engineering degree program as of the latest year in the study. The second, retention, is defined as either graduation or current enrolment in an engineering degree program as of the latest year in the study. A multiple logistic regression model was formulated to test for and estimate the predictive relationships between these measures of success and a set of six background variables that represent student’s pre-existing demographic and academic characteristics (gender, ethnicity, high school GPA, SAT math score, SAT verbal score, and citizenship status). It is found that both graduation and retention in engineering for students who enter in an engineering discipline depends significantly upon high school GPA and math SAT scores, while verbal SAT scores correlated negatively with odds of graduation for five out of eight universities. Gender, ethnicity and citizenship also showed significant effects for some Universities, but these were not consistently positive or negat ive predictors. We also find that gender, verbal SAT scores, ethnicity and citizenship frequently appear as predictors of retention, but not as predictors of graduation.
Introduction Identifying those factors that influence retention should be useful in suggesting approaches to improving student success in engineering. The identification of these factors will assist in developing meaningful admission procedures as well as aid the counseling and advising of students seeking an engineering degree. Much research has focused on identifying predictors of success in college and in engineering. Astin’s 1965 study of 36,581 students indicated that the student’s academic record in high school was the best single indicator of how well they would do in college1. He also indicated that there was a clear positive relationship between students’ performance on tests of academic ability (e.g. SAT) and performance in college. Astin also listed gender as useful in predicting college freshman GPA. In a more recent study, Seymour and Hewitt2 reported that the students leaving engineering were academically no different than those that remained. They reported students left for reasons relating to perceptions of the institutional culture and career aspects.
Perceptions and attitudes of engineering students have been examined in the literature. Besterfield-Sacre, Moreno, Shuman and Atman developed the Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering
Anderson, T., & Carter, R., & Thorndyke, B., & Ohland, M., & Zhang, G. (2002, June), Identifying Factors Influencing Engineering Student Retention Through A Longitudinal And Cross Institutional Study Using Quantitative And Qualitative Methods Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10411
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