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Studying The Engineering Experience: Design Of A Longitudinal Study

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Engineering Education Research

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1133.1 - 9.1133.15



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Paper Authors

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Robin Adams

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Reed Stevens

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Lorraine Fleming

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Cynthia Atman

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Sheri Sheppard

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Theresa Barker

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Ruth Streveler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Studying the Engineering Student Experience: Design of a Longitudinal Study

Sheri Sheppard, Cynthia Atman, Reed Stevens, Lorraine Fleming, Ruth Streveler, Robin Adams, Theresa Barker

Stanford University/University of Washington/ University of Washington/ Howard University/Colorado School of Mines/University of Washington/ University of Washington


There is a need to study how students become engineers, and how they learn engineering and design concepts. The Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE) is conducting critical research in this area. The objective of the study described in this paper is to discover what the student experience is during their undergraduate engineering education. The research includes a series of longitudinal studies of students at four universities: Colorado School of Mines, Howard University, Stanford University, and the University of Washington, and involves students during their undergraduate education and entry into the engineering workplace. The series of longitudinal studies is referred to as the Academic Pathways Study (APS). This paper describes the research design of the APS, including sampling decisions and survey design, and illuminates the potential impact of study findings on engineering education.


A number of studies have been conducted on how to make undergraduate education more effective. But there is a critical need to investigate engineering education from the student's perspective, to understand how students identify themselves as engineers, how they overcome the significant challenges during the educational process, and how they transition into a professional engineering career.

Research by engineering educators has largely focused on broad curricular issues, or specific disciplinary reforms, and only recently have studies been done with an emphasis on engineering student learning.1,2,3 Regarding transition into professional practice, professions such as architecture and medicine have a body of research delving into the nature of practice.4,5 But the few studies focused on engineering practice describe a working environment which differs significantly from the concepts and practices taught to students during their education.6,7,8

This paper describes an in-depth, longitudinal study into the student experience during their undergraduate engineering education, and transitioning into professional practice. The study is

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Adams, R., & Stevens, R., & Fleming, L., & Atman, C., & Sheppard, S., & Barker, T., & Streveler, R. (2004, June), Studying The Engineering Experience: Design Of A Longitudinal Study Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13203

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: © 2004 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