Asee peer logo

The Effects of Calculus I on Engineering Student Persistence

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Mathematics in the First Year

Tagged Divisions

First-Year Programs and Mathematics

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Amie Baisley Utah State University

visit author page

I have a B.S. in civil engineering and a M.S. in structural engineering from Arizona State University. After graduating, I became a lecturer at ASU in civil engineering. During my time teaching I really became interested in engineering education and knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in that field. After moving to Utah and finding the program at Utah State University, I have really enjoyed diving in to the education world. I am most interested in the sophomore level courses that engineering students typically take and how changes in those courses can impact student learning and retention.

visit author page

author page

V. Dean Adams Utah State University

Download Paper |


The number of students that start in engineering and persist to graduation with an engineering degree is continually declining with the attrition rate currently around 50%. This concern with engineering student retention has pointed to many issues including the early math requirements, specifically, Calculus I. Calculus I has often been referred to as a “bottle-neck” course for any engineering degree program, which implies that if a student can successfully complete this course then they are more likely to persist in the degree program. This study uses a longitudinal data set to determine how grades received in Calculus I along with other pre-college and demographic variables can predict persistence of engineering students. In many cases, this math course is taken prior to any technical engineering course, and this study shows how impactful the academic result of this course is for an engineering student. The results indicate the student outcomes after taking Calculus I, the grade distribution of students in the course, and a predictive model of persistence. The model considers the grade the student received in Calculus I, whether the student chose to retake the course, and other predictive variables to determine which students are more likely to persist in engineering or leave the engineering degree program.

Baisley, A., & Adams, V. D. (2019, June), The Effects of Calculus I on Engineering Student Persistence Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33386

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: © 2019 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