Asee peer logo

The Crucial Role Of Engineering Faculty On Student Performance

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Knowing Our Students I

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1265.1 - 11.1265.18



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Christina Vogt National Academy of Engineering

visit author page

Dr. Vogt has specialized in analysis of women's performance in non-traditional settings. As a former computer scientist and educator, she has been interested in closing the gender gap in all aspects of engineering education and high-tech workplaces.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

The Crucial Role of Faculty in Student Performance: Academic Integration versus Faculty Distance Abstract

Large numbers of students' depart from engineering programs before graduation.1 Several reasons have been posited such as attrition resulting from inadequate academic support, or from lowered student confidence due to estrangement from faculty members.3,4 For example, in fields such as engineering and computer science, students have commented on the inaccessible or unapproachable nature of faculty. To evaluate this previous body of research, this study gathered data across four research universities. Using structural equation modeling, it measured environmental effects, i.e., academic integration or faculty distance on a) self-efficacy, b) academic confidence and c) self-regulated learning behaviors, and d) GPA. Results showed that faculty distance lowered self-efficacy, academic confidence and GPA, where academic integration had positive effects, especially for females. In past studies, GPA has been a statistically significant predictor of “stayers” and “leavers” in science and engineering programs.2 Consequently, ongoing educational reform efforts must encourage engineering faculty to understand the significance of their student/professor relationships because its potential for student retention, especially for females, is significant. In concluding, recommendations are offered for faculty to help improve student retention with emphasis on interventions to retain females in engineering programs where they remain drastically underrepresented.

Background of the Problem

Overall, approximately 40% of those who begin college with the intention of undertaking engineering do not complete their programs of undergraduate studies indicating that in the case of engineering studies, a central problem is one of persistence.1 When attending engineering courses, students may be stunned at the level of difficulty in their coursework.2, 3,4 In these classrooms and lecture halls, faculty may, or may not, realize the critical role they play in a student's decision to persist. Undoubtedly, classroom dynamics may exert tremendous influence on students' academic persistence or willingness to sustain effort in their subjects.3,4,5 While many faculty members may disagree that they are discouraging some students, very subtle and often undetectable behaviors may have a negative effect on students.4,5,6

Astin6 was among the first to document that schools of higher education treat students differently and students are actually aware of these subtleties. Further, Serex7 identified males and females in education and nursing programs (i.e., feminine professions) who regardless of gender unanimously felt the classes had a "warm" atmosphere. Conversely, both males and females in accounting and engineering rated their classes as "cooler." More recently, in Seymour and Hewitt's4 book, the high attrition rates for science, math and engineering students is linked to the intimidating nature of the classroom, the dullness of the lecture model and inadequate faculty guidance. While this is true for both genders, it is more so for females.4

“Chilly” environments may have an efficient but not necessarily supportive function.5 If we consider the alternative to traditional college lecture halls, collaborative learning research has highlighted the distance between faculty and students in institutions of higher education: the

Vogt, C. (2006, June), The Crucial Role Of Engineering Faculty On Student Performance Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1270

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: © 2006 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