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Supporting an Informed Selection of an Engineering Major

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Monday Potpourri

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Kerry Meyers University of Notre Dame

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Dr. Kerry Meyers holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Education (B.S. & M.S. Mechanical Engineering) and is specifically focused on programs that influence student’s experience, affect retention rates, and the factors that determine the overall long term success of students entering an engineering program. She is the Assistant Dean for Student Development in the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. She is committed to the betterment of the undergraduate curriculum and is still actively involved in the classroom, teaching students in the First-Year Engineering Program.

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Cory Brozina Youngstown State University

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Dr. Cory Brozina is an assistant professor and the Director of First-Year Engineering at Youngstown State University. He completed his B.S. and M.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech, and his PhD is in Engineering Education, also from Virginia Tech. His research interests include: Learning Analytics, First-Year Engineering and Assessment.

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The following evidence based practice study investigates the impact of a First-Year Engineering discipline exploration course as it relates to retention, frequency of major change, and progress towards graduation. First-Year Engineering courses play a pivotal role in helping students not only determine which engineering discipline to choose but whether or not engineering is a major they want to continue to pursue. If students are able to make more informed decisions about the pathways in which to endeavor then there will likely be a quicker time to graduation and a less time and resources spent. However, not all First-Year Engineering courses and/or programs contain elements of major selection for students. This paper fills this gaps and describes how implementing a one-credit engineering orientation course can help students make timelier decisions regarding their intended major.

The study was conducted at a medium sized, Midwestern, public institution and compares two cohorts of students that experienced two different approaches to exploring engineering major selection, one starting in Fall of 2013 compared to the group stating in the Fall 2014. The original course, Fall 2013, involved a large lecture class with 200+ students, one instructor, and guest instructors from each department that lectured for 2 – 50 minute class periods on their discipline of engineering. The course was revised for Fall 2014 and involved 10 sections of 20-25 students that completed a hands on activity each week, 1 – 50 minute class period, related to each engineering discipline. Students rotated each week to a new engineering discipline session and after all departments had presented, students were able to select engineering disciplinary sessions of their interest for the remainder of the semester. For both cohorts, students were tracked longitudinally through their first-year, second-year, to the start of their third year to determine: (1) if they were retained in the STEM College, (2) the number of major changes during that time period, and (3) the number of credits completed towards graduation. Results of these factors are analyzed statistically and discussed within the context of engineering major selection, retention, and time to graduation.

Meyers, K., & Brozina, C. (2017, June), Supporting an Informed Selection of an Engineering Major Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28886

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