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Longitudinal Analysis Of Retention Within Engineering

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.370.1 - 4.370.7



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Paper Authors

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Teri Reed Rhoads

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Susan Haag

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Gwen Lee-Thomas

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

Session 3630

Longitudinal Analysis of Retention within Engineering Susan G. Haag, Teri Reed Rhoads Arizona State University College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Tempe, AZ 85287-5106 and Gwen Lee-Thomas Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute, Indiana 47803-3999

Abstract Reform across subject areas through curricular integration has overarching goals of achieving academic success and retaining engineering students. In an attempt to reform engineering education, seven institutions became part of the Foundation Coalition (FC) sponsored by the National Science Foundation. One method utilized by the FC member schools was to offer an integrated freshman or first-year program. Embedded within this innovative curriculum reform were seven student learning outcomes that were established in the FC’s strategic plan and were implemented and measured across selected subject areas. The student learning outcomes were emphasized for high academic success, student retention, and professionalism. The learning outcomes were so important that the Foundation Coalition now uses three of the four as their core competencies. A core competency is defined by the Foundation Coalition to be “the abilities that we must develop, continuously improve and use in order to realize the overall mission and vision of the Coalition.” (Foundation Coalition Strategic Plan Years 6-10) As a result of these strategies, retention for those students who participated in the FC programs has been consistently higher than the retention of those students in the more traditional engineering program. This report focuses on two very different participating member institutions and four of the student learning outcomes. The two universities, Arizona State University (ASU)-a flagship public university-and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT)-a small private engineering and science college-are two of the seven institutions that comprise the Foundation Coalition.

The Study The purpose of this study is to provide, for anyone interested in improving student retention in engineering, an examination of data from contrasting institutions that implemented one of the FC Programs. As a result, it is possible to draw parallels between the two universities. Although the intricacies of curriculum design were different, the overall concept of the FC Program and assessment and evaluation methodology were common to both institutions in our study. The data from this research indicated that a program such as the FC can be implemented at different types of institutions with diverse student populations yet yield similar results. This report is from year five (5) of a 10-year plan to observe the quality of the FC program through analysis of student learning outcomes (also referred to as core competencies) and retention.

Background The FC program is a self-selection program and is publicized through Freshman Orientation as well as in a mailing to entering freshmen who have indicated engineering as their chosen major. The courses selected for the curriculum are somewhat different for ASU and RHIT, but the

Rhoads, T. R., & Haag, S., & Lee-Thomas, G. (1999, June), Longitudinal Analysis Of Retention Within Engineering Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. 10.18260/1-2--7820

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