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Understanding Student Retention in Engineering

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: S-STEM 3

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Robin A.M. Hensel West Virginia University

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Robin A. M. Hensel, Ed.D., is the Assistant Dean for Freshman Experience in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. While her doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on higher education teaching of STEM fields, she also holds B.S. and M.A. degrees in Mathematics. Dr. Hensel has over seven years of experience working in engineering teams and in project management and administration as a Mathematician and Computer Systems Analyst for the U. S. Department of Energy as well as more than 25 years of experience teaching mathematics, statistics, computer science, and first-year engineering courses in higher education institutions. Currently, she leads a team of faculty who are dedicated to providing first year engineering students with a high-quality, challenging, and engaging educational experience with the necessary advising, mentoring, and academic support to facilitate their transition to university life and to prepare them for success in their engineering discipline majors and future careers.

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Joseph Dygert West Virginia University

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Ph.D student in aerospace engineering at West Virginia University

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Melissa Lynn Morris University of Nevada - Las Vegas

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Melissa Morris is currently an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She previously served as a Teaching Associate Professor for the Freshman Engineering Program, in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University (WVU). She graduated Summa cum Laude with a BSME in 2006, earned a MSME in 2008, and completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering in 2011, all from WVU. At WVU, she has previously served as the Undergraduate and Outreach Advisor for the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and the Assistant Director of the Center for Building Energy Efficiency. She has previously taught courses such as Thermodynamics, Thermal Fluids Laboratory, and Guided Missiles Systems, as well as serving as a Senior Design Project Advisor for Mechanical Engineering Students. Her research interests include energy and thermodynamic related topics. Since 2007 she has been actively involved in recruiting and outreach for the Statler College, as part of this involvement Dr. Morris frequently makes presentations to groups of K-12 students.

Dr. Morris was selected as a the ASEE North Central Section Outstanding Teacher in 2018.

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The XXX program employs known best practices to support engineering students with the goal of retaining them through graduation and diversifying the engineering workforce. The XXXX program started in 2012 and has been supported via NSF S-STEM award number XXXX since 2016. Cohorts from 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 consist of 12, 20, 22, and 17 students, respectively. Twenty-one renewable S-STEM supported scholarships have been award to students since 2016.

XXXX students participate in a one-week pre-fall bridge experience, a common fall professional development course, and a course emphasizing the role of engineers in societal development in the spring semester. Starting in the bridge experience and continuing until graduation, students participate in curricular and co-curricular activities with the goals of: (1) fostering feelings of belonging in engineering and institutional inclusion, (2) encouraging professional development, and (3) supporting academic achievement and student success. These goals are achieved by providing: (1) opportunities for interaction between students and peers, faculty, and industry mentors; (2) major and career exploration opportunities; and (3) academic support and student success education in areas such as time management and study skills.

XXX students participate in the GRIT, LAESE, and MSLQ surveys, as well as in focus groups and one-on-one interviews at the start and end of each fall semester and at the end of the spring semester. The surveys provide a quantitative measure of students’ GRIT, general self-efficacy, engineering self-efficacy, test anxiety, math outcome efficacy, intrinsic value of learning, inclusion, career expectations, and coping efficacy. Qualitative data from the focus group and individual interview responses are used to provide additional insight into the quantitative survey results.

A previous analysis of the 2017 XXXX cohort survey responses produced an unexpected result. When the responses of XXXX students who retained in engineering were compared to the responses of XXXX students who did not remain engineering, it was discovered that those students who left engineering had higher baseline values of GRIT, career expectations, engineering self-efficacy, and math outcome efficacy than those students who retained. An analysis of the 2018 cohort survey responses and the correlation to their retention is being explored in an effort to determine if this unexpected result is true of that cohort as well. Qualitative results will also be presented to provide an holistic understanding of student retention. Results from both the 2017 and 2018 cohorts will be presented and discussed in the paper and poster.

Hensel, R. A., & Dygert, J., & Morris, M. L. (2020, June), Understanding Student Retention in Engineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35427

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