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Relationship Between The Number of Reasons Students Cited To Study Engineering and Their Retention and Graduation Rates

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Paying More Attention to Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Paa Kwasi Adusei University of Cincinnati

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I am a PhD student with the Materials Science and Engineering department at the University of Cincinnati that has a passion for engineering education. I work as a graduate and research assistant with the Engineering Education department. My interests in Engineering education is specifically in student motivation and learning theories.

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Nora Honken University of Cincinnati

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Nora is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Education Department at The University of Cincinnati. She holds a PhD in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development for the University of Louisville, a MS in Industrial Engineering from Arizona State University and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech. She also has extensive industrial experience.

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Patricia A. Ralston University of Louisville

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Dr. Patricia A. S. Ralston is Professor and Chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at the University of Louisville. She received her B.S., MEng, and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville. Dr. Ralston teaches undergraduate engineering mathematics and is currently involved in educational research on the effective use of technology in engineering education, the incorporation of critical thinking in undergraduate engineering education, and retention of engineering students. She leads a research group whose goal is to foster active interdisciplinary research which investigates learning and motivation and whose findings will inform the development of evidence-based interventions to promote retention and student success in engineering. Her fields of technical expertise include process modeling, simulation, and process control.

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ABSTRACT The purpose of this complete research paper is to add to the knowledge base and gain a better understanding of factors related to an individual’s probability of graduating and/or persisting in engineering school. There has been increased attention in the public domain to college retention and graduation rates which have been influenced by multiple factors such as the increasing number of states using retention and graduation rates in funding formulas for colleges, the publication of retention and graduation rates and the amount of student loan debt. The attention paid to retention in engineering programs has also increased, fueled by the overall movement to increase graduation rates and additionally the call for more engineering graduates. This paper will attempt to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the number of reasons students cited for pursuing engineering and their first year retention and graduation rates.

Survey data was collated from first year engineering students in a large metropolitan research institution during the first week of their study in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 as part of a larger study on engineering student performance and retention. The question of interest in this study, was “Why did you choose engineering as a major? Check all that apply.” Students were given seven answers to choose from. It was noticed that some students selected just one reason while others selected multiple reasons. This research seeks to determine if students who cited more reasons were more likely to stay in engineering than those with less reasons, and if the reasons that influence one’s decision to pursue engineering has any bearing whatsoever on whether they continue in engineering.

The survey response rate was over 90% for each of the three years analyzed. Logistic regression will be used to determine if there is a significant difference in probability of graduation and/or first year retention depending on the number of reasons students cited as influential in their decision to pursue engineering as a discipline. It is our expectation that the information gained from this study will aid high schoolers, their parents and school counselors when choosing, or coaching students who are choosing, a course of study for college.

Adusei, P. K., & Honken, N., & Ralston, P. A. (2017, June), Relationship Between The Number of Reasons Students Cited To Study Engineering and Their Retention and Graduation Rates Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28792

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