June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.877.1 - 26.877.16
Identifying sources of information that students use in deciding which engineering major to pursueThis research explores the sources of information used by first-year students in deciding whichengineering discipline to pursue. The purpose of this study is two-fold: (1) to understand howstudents make an informed decision of which engineering major to pursue and (2) to helpadministration improve the resources provided to students based on this information. The studyis framed within the first-year engineering population of a large Midwestern university.In previous programmatic assessments and student surveys, students identified “Self-LedExploration of Engineering Disciplines” (SLE) as the single most important source ofinformation in choosing a major. SLE is a broad, ill-defined term, and different students mayinterpret the idea differently; we have developed a qualitative study to investigate how studentsperform self-led exploration. Interview data and the theoretical framework of Eccle’s expectancyvalue theory are used to make sense of the various concepts regarded as important to thestudents.We conducted individual interviews with a small sample of students (chosen to be representativeof the entire student population in terms of gender and nationality). The Constant ComparativeMethod is then used to analyze data gathered from the interviews to identify themes andcategories and compare them with the original items in the survey.We hope that the insights and results provided by the students in this study will help programadministration improve first year engineering resources made available to students. This in turnwill help students make a better informed decision when choosing their major.
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