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Studying Factors that Influence Scholar Retention in Engineering Education Research

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Trends in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1110.1 - 23.1110.15



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Paper Authors


Hanjun Xian Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Hanjun Xian is a PhD candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He holds
master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and started to pursue his doctoral degree in
engineering education in 2009. He is currently working as the student team leader with Dr. Madhavan
on the Deep Insights Anytime, Anywhere (DIA2) project, where he develops data mining algorithms and
visualizations to allow interactive navigation of large-scale bibliographic data in STEM. His research
interests include diffusion of research innovations, information visualization, data mining, Bibliometrics,
social network analysis, and user study.

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Krishna Madhavan Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Krishna P.C. Madhavan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He is also the Education Director and co-PI of the NSF-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology ( He specializes in the development and deployment of large-scale data and visualization based platforms for enabling learning analytics. His work also focuses on understanding the impact and diffusion of learning innovations. Dr. Madhavan was the Chair of the IEEE/ACM Supercomputing Education Program 2006 and was the curriculum director for the Supercomputing Education Program 2005. In January 2008, he was awarded the NSF CAREER award for work on transforming engineering education through learner-centric, adaptive cyber-tools and cyber-environments. He was one of 49 faculty members selected as the nation’s top engineering educators and researchers by the US National Academy of Engineering to the Frontiers in Engineering Education symposium.

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Studying Factors that Influence Scholars’ Retention in Engineering Education ResearchOver the past two decades, Engineering Education Research (EER) has drawn attentionsof scholars from a variety of disciplines. During 1993-2002, it has been reported that JEEauthors primarily came from engineering disciplines but no discipline dominates. Thereare also 23.9% JEE authors have no engineering or computer science background. Arecent study describes the opt-in process of how scholars, especially engineeringinstructors, start to develop interests in EER. However, it has never been fully exploredwhy among these newcomers, some eventually become active contributors and even keyplayers in the EER community, whereas some other researchers decided to opt out. Tosustain the community development and diversity, it is essential to study retention ofENE scholars and understand factors that influence their tendency of quitting EER. Inparticular, this paper aims to compare characteristics of new ENE scholars who latergrew into active practitioners with those who discontinued their EER research. Theresearch questions to be answered are: 1. What is the retention rate of ENE scholars and how did it change from 2000 to 2012? 2. What is the academic profile of new ENE scholars who later participate in EER more actively? 3. What is the academic profile of new ENE scholars who discontinue their EER research?To answer this question, we analyze 18,065 papers in ASEE Annual Conference andExposition over 2000-2012. In this study, we define ENE scholars as authors whopublished at least one paper in ASEE during 2000-2012. The ASEE conference isselected because of its popularity among both newcomers and senior scholars. Therefore,the ASEE conference is an appropriate publication venue for measuring the researchactiveness of ENE scholars with different length of experience. New scholars areidentified as ASEE authors with less than three papers during the first three years of theirdebut. Active contributors are recognized as ASEE authors who publish more than sixpapers over any three-year period. Opt-out scholars are those who published before buthave no ASEE paper for three consecutive years later.In this paper, we focus on the following factors and reveal how they correlate to newENE scholars’ participation: affiliation, discipline, research interest, collaborator, andfunding support. These attributes are selected to match previous findings that show theprimary challenges new ENE scholars encounter such as working in interdisciplinaryproblems, insufficient collaboration opportunity, and lack of funding. A scholar’saffiliation, discipline, research interest, and collaborators are extracted from the scholar’sASEE publications. The funding status is acquired from the award data of NationalScience Foundation (NSF), which is the primary funding source for EER. We apply abibliometric analysis and social network analysis to scholars’ publications and NSFawards. Results of this study can be used to predict the possibility of new ENE scholarsstaying or quitting EER in the future. Therefore, it informs policy makers of makingnecessary changes for scholar retention.

Xian, H., & Madhavan, K. (2013, June), Studying Factors that Influence Scholar Retention in Engineering Education Research Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22495

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