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Preliminary Analysis of Factors Influencing Time to Graduation by Gender

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Undergraduate Student Issues: Persistence

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.976.1 - 23.976.24



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Paper Authors

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Christine Valle Georgia Institute of Technology

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John D. Leonard II Georgia Institute of Technology


Ann Marie Blasick Georgia Institute of Technology

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Ann Blasick earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Wilkes University and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. After working in industry for Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks, as well as in the non-profit arena for several years, she returned to Georgia Tech in 2005 as an Assistant Director in the Division of Professional Practice, advising co-op and internship students. In August 2011, she transitioned to her position as Associate Director of the Women in Engineering Program within the Georgia Tech College of Engineering.

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Preliminary Analysis of Factors Influencing Time to Graduation by GenderMuch attention has been given in the past to the issues of retention of women and under-represented minorities in engineering. Most analyses are based on data collected atmultiple institutions and seek to derive general conclusions across a very diverseselection of universities and student population. It also focuses on the experiences ofpersisters (students who eventually graduate with an engineering degree) versus the non-persisters (students who eventually leave engineering and graduate – or not – in anotherdiscipline). To the best of our knowledge, not much attention has been given to the factthat most engineering students take 5 or 6 years to graduate (even though the curriculumis based on 4 years to graduation) and why.This study follows in the footsteps of previous work, looking at what causes engineeringstudents to delay graduation from the nominally advertised 4-year BS degree to the morecommon 5-year or 6-year period. Do students delay graduation for what we consider tobe positive reasons (such as gaining meaningful professional experience, for example byspending a semester in a co-op or internship) or for negative reasons (failing classes andthus, having to repeat them)? The overarching goal is to develop a model for what it takesto graduate in 4 years, in order to inform our institution’s upper administration and statelegislature, both of which are under pressure to decrease time to graduation to satisfyvarious local, city and state stakeholders.In order to do this, we analyzed data by semester, rather than by year as is morecommonly done in the retention literature. We looked at specific factors known toinfluence time to graduation and assessed their effect by gender. Using this data, the hopeis to develop a formulaic model that predicts time to graduation by taking intoconsideration various, typical student behaviors.

Valle, C., & Leonard, J. D., & Blasick, A. M. (2013, June), Preliminary Analysis of Factors Influencing Time to Graduation by Gender Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22361

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