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Student Perceptions of Faculty Support: Do Class Size or Institution Type Matter?

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Size, Civility, and the Classroom Culture: Setting Class Tone with a Student-centered Perspective

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/p.25910

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25910

Download Count

105

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Paper Authors

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Cheryl Allendoerfer University of Washington

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Dr. Allendoerfer is a Research Scientist in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington.

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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 and on effective methods for teaching global issues such as those pertaining to sustainability.

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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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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 a Professor in the Department of Integrated Engineering program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, home of the Iron Range and Twin Cities Engineering programs. She is also a program director at the National Science Foundation for TCUP and HBCU-UP in the Division of Human Resource Development.

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Tamara Floyd Smith P.E. Tuskegee University

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

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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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Abstract

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

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015