June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
College Industry Partnerships
24.1202.1 - 24.1202.34
A Longitudinal Study of Retention among Undergraduate Engineering Students Based on Co-op Industry Placements, Self- Efficacy, Contextual Support, and Demographic CharacteristicsAbstractThis study presents the final results of a three-year longitudinal study of retention among male andfemale undergraduate engineering students enrolled at four universities. It examines the effect ofcooperative education placements, contextual support, demographic characteristics, and threedimensions of self-efficacy and their change over time on retention, starting with the sophomoreyear. It is based on a pathways model that links contextual support and cooperative education andother forms of work experience to self-efficacy as a basis for retention in college and in theengineering major. As a longitudinal study, it incorporates measures at three time periods duringthe students’ academic experience: their second, third, and fourth years in undergraduate education.The original data pool constituted all second-year (sophomore) students in the colleges ofengineering from the four participating universities. Student respondents initially filled out a 20-minute survey, among which were assessments of three forms of self-efficacy: work, career, andacademic. They then filled out comparable post-surveys one and two years later (as third andfourth-year students) during which those selecting co-op could have completed at least their firstset of co-op placements.The findings verified the pathways model. Academic self-efficacy and contextual support (suchas support from friends and from one’s college) in all time periods were found to be critical toretention. Contextual support was found to be particularly important to women and appears toserve as an inducement to stay in school and in engineering. Work self-efficacy, developed bystudents between their second and fourth years in school, was also an important factor inretention, though it is strongly tied to the students’ participation in co-op programs. It wasfound, at the final survey point of the study, that the more co-ops taken by students, the highertheir retention rate. It was also found that the quality of the industry placement, in particularthrough such dimensions as the chance to make a difference, to be part of a team, and to applyknowledge from one’s major, enhanced students’ subsequent work self-efficacy. Co-op studentswere also found to rely less on support provided by their colleges, friends, parents, and academicadvisors. They were also found to value the instruction of their professors less once returning toclass after their first co-op experience.Among the demographic variables, a relatively high GPA was found to be an inducement topersist in engineering and in school. It was also found, at the second survey point of the study,that a student’s prior SAT scores was a measurable predictor of retention. Finally, those studentswho were accustomed to work over a relatively long period of time were more inclined to leavethe university compared to those who had less work experience in their lifetimes.The findings in particular for co-op and contextual support in this study confirm the value ofstrong college-industry partnerships to provide quality placements for vital entry experienceswithin the workplace and to provide support, especially to women undergraduates, in the form ofcampus engagement to urge students to graduate and enter the engineering workforce.
Raelin, J. A., & Bailey, M. B., & Hamann, J. C., & Reisberg, R., & Whitman, D. L., & Pendleton, L. K. (2014, June), The Effect of Cooperative Education, Contextual Support, and Self-Efficacy on Male and Female Student Retention Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23135
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