Asee peer logo

Succeed Sponsored Freshman Year Engineering Curriculum Improvements At Nc State: A Longitudinal Study Of Retention

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.907.1 - 6.907.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Timothy J. Anderson

author page

Sarah A. Rajala

Download Paper |

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

Session 1430

SUCCEED-Sponsored Freshman Year Engineering Curriculum Improvements at NC State: A Longitudinal Study of Retention

Matthew W. Ohland, Sarah A. Rajala, Timothy J. Anderson Clemson University / North Carolina State University / University of Florida


NC State’s involvement in the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED Coalition has led to a number of changes to the freshman year of the engineering curriculum as reported previously (e.g., ASEE 1999, Porter, et al.). An explicit objective of these changes was to retain in engineering those students who were qualified and interested in engineering, but were leaving engineering for other reasons. While a number of isolated innovations have been studied and have demonstrated posi- tive benefit, this study looks at each freshman cohort from 1987 through 1998 to evaluate changes in retention in engineering during that period. Eleven cohorts were studied; five (1987- 1991) experienced no influence from SUCCEED-sponsored innovations, three (1992-1994) had subsets of the cohort involved in various pilot programs, and four (1995-1998) were more thor- oughly affected by SUCCEED-sponsored curriculum changes. Aligned with these cohort group- ings, the data indicate three different patterns of attrition. The pre-implementation cohorts are characterized by rapid attrition to a retention of 60-65% by the first semester of the sophomore year, and remaining relatively unchanged beyond that point. The transition cohort data show that the steep rate of attrition of the pre-implementation cohorts was mitigated. Continued attrition through the sophomore year, however, resulted in a transition cohort retention rate that was not significantly different from that of the pre-implementation cohorts. The post-implementation data indicate both a slower rate of attrition and a significantly improved retention rate—with 75% of the 1995 cohort retained in the engineering curriculum after eight semesters and 85% of the 1996 cohort retained after six semesters. If the observed trend in engineering retention con- tinues, NC State might be close to the maximum expected retention, after removing uninterested and unqualified students from the population.

I. Introduction

The NSF funded SUCCEED Engineering Education Coalition is a collaboration of eight Col- leges of Engineering in the southeastern U.S.1 with a shared mission of creating sustainable en- gineering education reform on each of our campuses. SUCCEED has a vision of a curriculum that will educate our students for success throughout their career by nurturing technical confi- dence, developing a skill base for success, and instilling a positive attitude in its graduates. While these schools are all publicly funded, there is great diversity in their size, mission, student body, experience, and academic strengths. This diverse “educational research laboratory” has

1 Clemson University, Florida A&M University-Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, Univer- sity of Florida, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ? 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Anderson, T. J., & Rajala, S. A., & Ohland, M. (2001, June), Succeed Sponsored Freshman Year Engineering Curriculum Improvements At Nc State: A Longitudinal Study Of Retention Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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: © 2001 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