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Sometimes, Faculty Matter: The Contribution of Faculty Support to Future Engagement

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Faculty Development II

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1383.1 - 26.1383.17



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Paper Authors


Denise Wilson University of Washington

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Denise Wilson is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research interests in engineering education focus on the role of self-efficacy, belonging, and other non-cognitive aspects of the student experience on engagement, success, and persistence.

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Diane Carlson Jones Ph.D University of Washington


Rebecca A Bates Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Rebecca A. Bates received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington in 2004. She also received the M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1993. She is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Integrated Engineering program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, home of the Iron Range and Twin Cities Engineering programs.

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Tamara Floyd Smith Tuskegee University

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Dr. Tamara Floyd Smith is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tuskegee University.

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Melani Plett Seattle Pacific University

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Prof. Melani Plett is a Professor in Electrical Engineering at Seattle Pacific University. She has over seventeen years of experience in teaching a variety of engineering undergraduate students (freshman through senior) and has participated in several engineering education research projects, with a focus how faculty can best facilitate student learning.

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Nanette M Veilleux Simmons College

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Nanette Veilleux is a Professor and Director of the Computer Science and Informatics Program at Simmons College, Boston, MA. Her research interests include pedagogy in STEM disciplines, particularly with respect to women students and computational linguistics where she investigates the use of intonation in human speech.

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Sometimes, Faculty Matter: The Contribution of Faculty Support to Future EngagementThe  positive  relationship  between  student-­‐faculty  interaction  and  academic  outcomes  for  students  has   been   established   in   the   literature.    Faculty   support   has   been   associated   with   cognitive   skill  development  (Kim  &  Sax  2011),  academic  effort  (Kuh  &  Hu  2001),  and  persistence  (Mamiseishvili  2012).    In   fact,   relationships   with   faculty   have   been   shown   to   be   a   stronger   predictor   of   student  learning  than  student  background  characteristics  (Lundberg  &  Schreiner  2004).        In  this  study,  we  looked  at  the  contribution  of  student-­‐faculty  interactions  to  the  future  engagement  of  these  students  in  their  academic  endeavors.    These  relationships  were  evaluated  in  a  year-­‐long  longitudinal   study   of   engineering   and   computer   science   students   at   five   different   institutions.    These  five  institutions  include  three  types  of  Carnegie  2010  classifications  (Bac-­‐Diverse,  Master’s  L,  and   RU-­‐VH),   four   geographical   locations   including   the   northwest,   northeast,   midwest,   and  southeast,   and   both   public   and   private   institutions   with   total   undergraduate   enrollments   varying  from  3,500  to  29,000  students.      We  have  collected  student  perceptions  of  how  well  faculty  support  students  inside  and  outside  the  classroom   and   measured   one   year   later,   student   engagement.       The   role   of   faculty   in   influencing  student  engagement  is  studied  in  the  context  of  a  larger  study  (Figure  1)  that  emphasizes  the  role  of  belonging  and  community  in  relating  to,  mediating,   and  predicting  engagement.      Both  behavioral  (effort,   participation)   and   emotional   (positive,   negative)   aspects   of   engagement   are   studied.      Results  show  that,  at  four  of  the  five  institutions,  neither  informal  faculty  support  (interactions  with  faculty   outside   of   the   context   of   a   course)   nor   formal   faculty   support   (in   the   context   of   a   course)  predict   future   engagement   at   a   behavioral   or   emotional   level.       Such   a   predictive   relationship  emerges   only   for   the   fifth   institution   (a   large   public   research   university)   and   then   only   for   informal  faculty   support.     Furthermore,   significant   predictive   relationships   only   occur   for   informal   faculty  support   and   positive   emotional   engagement,   Put   into   the   context   of   the   items   used   to   measure  informal  faculty  support  and  positive  emotional  engagement,  this  result  means  that  when  a  student  develops   a   supportive   relationship   with   at   least   one   faculty   member   or   faculty   have   a   positive  influence   on   a   student’s  career  goals   and   aspirations,   then,   one   year   later,   students   tend   to   enjoy,  feel  good,  or  be  more  interested  in  their  major  classes,  labs,  and  study  groups.          The   results   of   this   study   are   interesting   because   students   also   report   levels   of   informal   faculty  support   that   are   significantly   lower   at   the   research   institution   than   at   the   remaining   four  institutions   in   the   study.       From   other   studies,   we   also   know   that   faculty-­‐student   interactions   occur  rather  infrequently  at  all  types  of  schools,  but  especially  so  at  research  institutions.    (The  National  Survey   of   Student   Engagement   (NSSE),   2006).       Thus,   our   results   suggest   that   only   when   faculty  support   is   less   prevalent   among   students   is   the   faculty   support   that   is   provided   significant   in  influencing   future   engagement.       Yet,   at   institutions   where   faculty   are   generally   more   supportive   of  students,  such  an  impact  on  engagement  does  not  emerge.      This  result  has  important  implications  to  how  faculty  approach  interactions  with  students  in  terms  of  where  time  and  energy  can  be  best  directed  for  the  greatest  benefit.      References:Kim, Y. and L. Sax (2011). Are the effects of student-faculty interaction dependent on academic major? An examination using multilevel modeling. Research in Higher Education, 52( 6), 589-615.Kuh, G. D. & Hu, S. (2001). The effects of student-faculty interaction in the 1990s. The Review of Higher Education, 24, 309-332.Lundberg, C. A. & Schreiner, L. A. (2004). Quality and frequency of faculty-student interaction as predictors of learning: An analysis by student race/ethnicity. Journal of College Student Development, 45 (5), 549-565.Mamiseishvili, K. (2012). Academic and social integration and persistence of international students at U.S. two-year institutions. Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 36(1), 15-27.National Survey on Student Engagement (NSEE) (2006). Engaged Learning: Fostering Success for all Students. Retrieved from: Figure 1: Conceptual Framework of the Connection, Community, & Engagement Study

Wilson, D., & Jones, D. C., & Bates, R. A., & Smith, T. F., & Plett, M., & Veilleux, N. M. (2015, June), Sometimes, Faculty Matter: The Contribution of Faculty Support to Future Engagement Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24720

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