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What Can DISC and Motivation Profiles Disclose About Student Retention in Engineering?

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Breigh Nonte Roszelle University of Denver

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Dr. Breigh Roszelle completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University in 2006. She then continued in academia, completing her Masters and PhD in Bioengineering at The Pennsylvania State University. At Penn State Breigh worked in the Artificial Heart Lab, her research focused on studying the biofluid mechanics associated with the development of a pediatric ventricular assist device. After completing her PhD in 2010, Breigh came to Arizona State University to work as a post doc in the Image Processing Applications Lab. In 2013 she became a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Denver. Here Breigh teaches courses in the fields of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, biofluids, and introduction to engineering. Her educational research interests include first-year engineering experiences, engineering assessment, and active learning pedagogy.

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Karen Kaye Langenberg Indigo Education Company Orcid 16x16

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Karen Langenberg, M.B.A. Wharton, A.B in Biology, Princeton University, is a Director at the Indigo Education Company. After 25+ years in biotech/pharma medical education and marketing (with Merck & Co., Eyetech, and inVentiv Health), Karen joined Indigo to help advance the exciting, technology-enabled, personalized learning revolution that is happening before our eyes. Karen takes particular interest in helping nurture future science and technology leaders, among them students who have typically been under-represented in these professions.

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Jason Andrew Roney University of Denver

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Dr. Roney is currently a Teaching Associate Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Dr. Roney joined the University of Denver (DU) in Autumn 2014. Prior to joining DU, Dr. Roney held both industry and academic positions. One of his areas of research interest is Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education.

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Matt Gordon P.E. University of Denver

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Dr. Matt Gordon is Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. His research areas include numerical and experimental plasma physics, chemical and physical vapor deposition, electronic packaging, and bio-medical engineering. He has supervised to completion 26 MSME students and 5 PhD students. Publications include 1 book chapter, 32 journal publications, 47 refereed conference proceedings, 29 non-refereed publications, and 27 non-refereed presentations. He is responsible for funds as PI or Co-PI from 52 separate proposals totaling almost $6,500,000. Courses taught include undergraduate finite elements, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, and engineering economics and ethics, and graduate finite elements, numerical methods, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, plasma fundamentals and gas dynamics.

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In 2015 the engineering departments at the University of Denver (DU) partnered with the Indigo Project to perform an assessment of the freshman engineering students using DISC and Motivation profiles. These profiles are a part of the overall Indigo Assessment, which helps educators observe the non-academic traits of their students. The multi-dimensional, four-science survey also measures development in 23 soft skills and social emotional perceptions. DISC comprises four behaviors: Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Compliance. The six Indigo Assessment Motivators are Theoretical, Utilitarian, Aesthetic, Social, Individualistic and Traditional. Indigo found that the students who took the assessment were perhaps the most unique group of engineering students they have observed across all assessment factors. Some observations from the 2015 data include indications that the program attracts and develops high potential entrepreneurs, that these engineering students are particularly high Theoreticals (passion for learning), and are generally well-rounded and varied in terms of behavior styles and motivations. In 2017, the same set of students (now seniors) have been re-assessed as part of the ongoing DU and Indigo partnership.

Comparing these data sets, along with information about how the class make-up changed over three years, our paper will analyze which of the initial students stayed in engineering at DU, which left engineering, which left DU, and how the students changed between their freshman and senior years. The goal of the study is to see if there is any information in the students’ non-academic profiles that can help determine why a student may have succeeded in engineering at DU or decided to leave. A future objective will also address the possibility of using the profiles of students to help move towards personalized learning in order to aid in retention of students within the program.

Roszelle, B. N., & Langenberg, K. K., & Roney, J. A., & Gordon, M. (2018, June), What Can DISC and Motivation Profiles Disclose About Student Retention in Engineering? Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31232

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