New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
New Engineering Educators
In the context of Tinto’s Model of Institutional Departure, faculty support is critical to academic integration, which in turn is an essential element of persistence in college. Thus, understanding students’ perceptions of faculty support in varied settings can provide insight into student satisfaction, performance, and persistence in engineering programs. In this study, focus groups were conducted with 175 students from five different institutions and a variety of engineering and computer science majors. The institutions in this study included a small women’s college, a historically black university, a small private university, a medium size teaching university, and a large public research university. Focus group transcripts were coded and analyzed qualitatively. Findings from this analysis show that in some settings, despite a perceived lack of formal, in-class faculty support, students are still able to find faculty support outside the classroom, while in other settings this informal support is also perceived as lacking. In general, smaller environments with smaller student-to-faculty ratios appear to support stronger perceptions of support, although through different pathways. A small class size does not guarantee that students will perceive greater faculty support in that class. Large class sizes are not automatically detrimental for students, but they can be if students in those classes feel a lack of faculty support or availability both in and out of the classroom. With regard to institution type, the notion that undergraduates perceive lower levels of faculty support at research institutions holds true. This study has not verified whether the level of faculty support is actually less at research institutions, but only that students’ self-reported perceptions of that support were lower at the research-focused institution when compared to teaching-focused institutions in this study. Regardless, given the importance of faculty support in persistence and other academic outcomes, this study suggests that greater attention to the ways in which faculty support students may be in order, particularly at research institutions and other large educational settings.
Allendoerfer, C., & Wilson, D., & Plett, M., & Bates, R. A., & Smith, T. F., & Veilleux, N. M. (2016, June), Student Perceptions of Faculty Support: Do Class Size or Institution Type Matter? Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25910
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