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Optimizing Student-Faculty Rapport for the Engineering Classrooms: Dimensioning the Behaviors that Matter

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Faculty Development Research

Tagged Division

Faculty Development Division

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Paper Authors


Fethiye Ozis P.E. Northern Arizona University

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Dr. Fethiye “Faith” Ozis is a lecturer in the civil and environmental engineering department at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Ozis holds a B.S. in environmental engineering from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She is a licensed Professional Engineer, Environmental, in Arizona.

Dr. Ozis is an ExCEEd fellow, and enjoys every dimension of being an engineering educator, including conducting research related to classroom and innovative pedagogical strategies. Her own intersectionality led to her passion in promoting and researching pathways into Engineering especially for underrepresented minority groups.

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Kyle Nathan Winfree Northern Arizona University

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Dr. Winfree is the Associate Director of the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems as Northern Arizona University. His research focuses on wearable technologies as applied to health assessment and rehabilitation. He teaches in both Electrical Engineering and Informatics.

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This research paper describes the findings from an exploratory study. Student retention, from program initiation through commencement, in engineering disciplines is recognized as a challenge by higher learning institutions across the US. Numerous studies have identified that professors who can establish strong and positive rapport with their students have an immediate and positive impact on students’ learning, engagement, motivation and academic success, resulting in a positive long-term influence on retention. Previous work has defined fifteen specific faculty behaviors that establish positive rapport between students and professors in other disciplines. However, these past studies may not be generalized for engineering and fall short of identifying the differences across student academic maturity and demographics. Given the potential for strong impact on engineering students’ experiences, and faculty resource limitations, we sought to elucidate if some behaviors have a higher potential for impact than others, and if so, which faculty behaviors may best contribute to building faculty-student rapport. With these insights, engineering faculty can be trained to selectively focus on those which are expected to have the greatest return on investment. To support the primary aim, students from multiple disciplines in an engineering college were surveyed and asked to rank their perceptions of faculty behaviors that best establish rapport with engineering students. The survey asked students to self identify their gender and ethnicity. This was used to identify how these factors may influence ranking of rapport supportive behaviors. Additionally, this survey asked students both their academic program (the discipline within engineering) and their degree progression, in order to identify how these factors impact such rankings. Based on findings in the literature, and given the scope of this project, the authors anticipate that the most effective way to broaden students’ retention in engineering education is through establishing rapport between engineering professors and their students. Using the results of this study, we can design interventions aimed at faculty member’s ability to establish positive rapport, which in turn creates a respectful environment, and removes the barriers to cultivation of diverse student retention in engineering disciplines. Preferred presentation method for this work is round table discussion.

Ozis, F., & Winfree, K. N. (2020, June), Optimizing Student-Faculty Rapport for the Engineering Classrooms: Dimensioning the Behaviors that Matter Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35016

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