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Predicting Engineering Student Retention

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1001.1 - 9.1001.10



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Paper Authors

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Eugene P. Deess

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Kamal Joshi

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Vladimir Briller

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Raymond Calluori

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

Session 1793

Predicting Engineering Student Retention

Vladimir Briller, Eugene P. Deess, Raymond Calluori and Kamal Joshi New Jersey Institute of Technology

Abstract Recent retention studies identify factors that exist beyond academic environment as the most critical for student withdrawal. This paper reviews the methodologies and findings of a cluster of studies on retention at NJIT, an urban, public university with large undergraduate and graduate engineering programs. The paper analyzed and compared the outcomes of the students who were successfully enrolled and those who dropped out from NJIT over the period of four years from 1999 to 2003 with the goal to identify early predictors of student success and failure. The study found that a certain combination of high school ranking, pre-calculus placement test results, cumulative grade point average complemented by student level of commitment, as defined by the Entering Student Survey are the best quantitative predictors for the first-year retention.

Literature Review Tinto’s (1987) student retention model claims that there are individual reasons for student departure which are affected by a number of interactions within the institutional structure of the college. The individual reasons of student departure include intention and commitment. Students who persist tend to have clear career goals when entering. They intend to pursue their field at this particular college and to graduate. At the end, the decision to leave college is a personal one, but it occurs within an important social context. The student's social interactions within the college context may make or interrupt the decision to leave. Tinto mentions four relevant factors of the college experience: adjustment, difficulty, incongruence, and isolation (Tinto, 1987, p. 39). Each of these factors may become decisive in student’s willingness to continue or drop out. Braxton and Shaw Sullivan (1997) supplemented Tinto’s study by the empirical research.

Bean and Metzner (1985) proposed a model of attrition for adult students in which retention decisions may often be beyond the scope of the institution. Non-traditional students in that model are distinguished from their traditional counterparts by their intense academic and vocational orientation to college assignments. This model gives the institution the means to intervene in retention decisions. Bean suggests six types of models, all of which have the potential to help understand the attrition process; each model identifies the interrelationships among the various factors and the relationships between these factors and the dropout decision.

Bean’s study was supported by Allen (1999) who examined the relationships among four constructs: (1) student motivation, (2) student background, (3) academic performance, and (4)

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education"

Deess, E. P., & Joshi, K., & Briller, V., & Calluori, R. (2004, June), Predicting Engineering Student Retention Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13409

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