Asee peer logo

Nontraditional students in engineering: Studying student support and success experiences to improve persistence and retention

Download Paper |


2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Cory Brozina Youngstown State University - Rayen School of Engineering

visit author page

Dr. Cory Brozina is the Associate Chair for the Rayen School of Engineering at Youngstown State University.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This IUSE: Engaged Student Learning project will conduct a study of nontraditional students in engineering (NTSE) to better understand how to support their co-curricular activities so that they are better able to persist with engineering as a discipline.

Nontraditional students (NTS) are increasing both as a proportion of undergraduates and in overall numbers. This is especially the case within engineering as people in the workforce return to complete their degrees or are looking to finish school on a part-time basis. Online offerings across higher education institutions has further accelerated this trend. However, there is little research into engineering students that possesses characteristics associated with nontraditional students. Engineering as an educational enterprise has been designed to support a traditional four-year residential degree (e.g. group projects, study halls) and NTS are disadvantaged. Prior work has demonstrated better effectiveness for teaching and pedagogy if co-curricular activities are supported and if proper awareness and access to student support mechanisms are in place students are more likely to be successful. Therefore, we need to understand the efficacy of support structures for nontraditional characteristics. The need for this proposed work is critical within engineering as the discipline traditionally has a low persistence and retention rate and this is also the case for NTSE. This work is especially pertinent in the current climate where NTS are additionally burdened due to COVID-19 – there is less support in time of greater need.

This research looks to answer one research questions: (1) What impact does NTS characteristics have on student integration and student success?

To answer the research questions, we will present and show findings from the engineering student support instrument. The survey instrument contains 22 questions relating to four constructs of integration: (1) Academic, (2) Social, (3) Professional, and (4) University. The survey was administered during the Fall 2021 semester with 142 responses from engineering students in all years. The results will showcase differences between traditional and nontraditional students in regards to their experiences with co-curricular supports.

Brozina, C. (2022, August), Nontraditional students in engineering: Studying student support and success experiences to improve persistence and retention Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2022 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015