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Probation and Suspension in Engineering by Major and Matriculation Model

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

ERM: Persistence and Attrition in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Baker Martin Clemson University

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Baker Martin is a Lecturer in General Engineering at Clemson University where he teaches in the first-year engineering program. His research interests include choice and decision making, especially relating to first-year engineering students’ major selection. He earned his Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University, his M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

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Lisa Lampe University of Virginia

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Lisa Lampe is the Director of Undergraduate Education in the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science, joining UVA in January 2014 as the Director of Undergraduate Success. Prior to that, she served in many roles that bridge student affairs and academic affairs including Student Services Specialist and Residence Dean at Stanford University, and Hall Director and Interim Area Coordinator for residential academic programs at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She recently earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education at the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia and her B.S. in Applied Math from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2004.

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This full paper will explore rates of academic suspension in engineering disciplines and will build off past descriptive ex post facto analysis. Academic suspension rates at 4-year institutions range from 2% to 10%. We investigated the percentage of students on probation who eventually become suspended within an engineering major. To explore engineering trends across institutions, over time, and contextualized by major, we utilized the Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD). MIDFIELD provided institutional record data for all students from partner institutions. This included students’ academic standing for each term from most institutions which will be used as the primary data source for our analysis.

We examined the six highest enrolled engineering majors – Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Industrial, and Chemical – and disaggregated our results by engineering major, matriculation model, and both major and matriculation model simultaneously. We investigated matriculation models where students were admitted 1) directly to a degree-granting engineering major, 2) to first year engineering programs, and 3) directly to the university. Based on previous research, we also examined the major with the highest percentage of students put on probation for equity. Our sample includes over 44,000 students enrolled beginning in 1987 until 2018 from eight institutions in the United States. By engineering major, our results show smaller variations in the percentage of students suspended and larger variations in the percentage of students on academic warning or probation. Of the six engineering majors studied, Electrical Engineering placed the highest rate of its students on academic warning or probation and Black students were overrepresented on academic probation. Students at institutions with direct matriculation to engineering majors also had higher rates of students placed on academic warning or probation compared to institutions with first-year engineering programs.

We recommend engineering programs, professional organizations, student success staff, and diversity, equity, and inclusion staff examine these trends at their own institutions. We also recommended future work to examine comparisons to non-engineering majors and include environmental factors such as mindsets and culture within fields which might play a role in student retention and recovery, particularly for minoritized engineering students. We believe this work will be useful for colleges of engineering to help direct resources for student support and retention. With future work, these results will also be useful to inform academic standing policy and curriculum changes to help students avoid academic probation and suspension in the first place.

Martin, B., & Lampe, L. (2022, August), Probation and Suspension in Engineering by Major and Matriculation Model Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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