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Portraying The Academic Experiences Of Students In Engineering: Students' Perceptions Of Their Educational Experiences And Career Aspirations In Engineering.

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Knowing Our Students, Part 2

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1162.1 - 12.1162.18



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Paper Authors


Russell Korte University Of Minnesota

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Russell F. Korte is a doctoral candidate in Human Resource Development and Strategic Management and Organization at the University of Minnesota. He is also a research assistant for the university’s Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. His research interests include learning, socialization, and performance in adult education and the workplace.

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Karl Smith University of Minnesota

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

Portraying the Academic Experiences of Students in Engineering: Students’ Perceptions of their Educational Experiences and Career Aspirations in Engineering.


Understanding better the experiences of students pursuing an engineering degree is an important issue for the pedagogy of engineering programs. This study sought to identify students’ perceptions of their educational experiences and their motivations for and dreams of a career in engineering. The study also provided a snapshot of the current status of engineering education at this institution from the perspective of engineering students—including students’ decisions behind their choice of engineering as a major, the learning experiences of engineering students, and gender-related perspectives regarding engineering education. The findings suggest opportunities to improve the educational process for students in this engineering program.


The quality of learning and attrition are two issues important to post-secondary engineering education.1,2,3 The quality of students’ learning and their decisions to stay or leave a program of study is a complex phenomenon based on interactions among students, faculty, and the environment. Learning and the decision to persist in engineering are largely influenced by the experiences of students during their course of study. Seymour and Hewitt2 and others3 recognized the importance of students’ perceptions and a need to understand better these experiences. This study presents the findings of the experiences of engineering students at one institution. The first part of this introduction reviews some of the findings of previous studies related to the quality of student learning experiences. The second part of the introduction focuses on previous studies related to the connection between student experiences and attrition in sciences, math, and engineering programs. The remainder of the paper describes this study and its findings, concluding with recommendations for improving the quality of students’ learning experiences.

Quality of student learning experiences

Alexander Astin4,5 addressed the question, "What environmental factors make the biggest difference in college students' academic development, personal development, and satisfaction?” He conducted a longitudinal study of 27,064 students at 309 baccalaureate-granting institutions. This work represented a large-scale attempt to study the impact of different approaches to general education on student development using a large national sample of undergraduate institutions and a wide range of student outcomes. He was primarily interested in the outcomes and in particular, how environments affect them. One-hundred-ninety-two environmental factors were investigated to determine which factors influenced students' academic achievement, personal development, and satisfaction with college.

Astin4,5 found that the particular manner in which the general education curriculum is structured makes very little difference for most of the 82 outcomes he identified. Instead, he found that two environmental factors--the frequency and quality of student-student interaction, and the

Korte, R., & Smith, K. (2007, June), Portraying The Academic Experiences Of Students In Engineering: Students' Perceptions Of Their Educational Experiences And Career Aspirations In Engineering. Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2741

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: © 2007 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