This project seeks to expand the number of institutions participating in The Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD). MIDFIELD is a resource enabling the study of students that includes longitudinal, whole population data for multiple institutions. Retention, measured in various ways, has been the dominant mode of studying student success in engineering education and in higher education in general. However, simply studying who matriculates and who graduates does not tell the complete story of a student's path through the engineering curriculum nor should it be used as a measure of an institution. A national, longitudinal student unit-record database would enable study of engineering programs and benchmark metrics consistently. MIDFIELD has already been proven to facilitate data on student matriculation habits disaggregated across various engineering disciplines, ethnicities and genders. However its value as a predictive tool has also been somewhat limited due to the small (eleven) number of institutions who have provided their student data.
This project aims to expand MIDFIELD database from eleven to 103 institutions containing over 10 million students. More specifically the data will represent over 50% of the U.S. engineering undergraduate degrees awarded and increase the diversity of institutions in the dataset. MIDFIELD will include public and private institutions, minority serving institutions, and institutions from a broad range of research classifications. The sheer scope and longitude of MIDFIELD will enable significant improvements in research in higher education. It will enable the development of research capacity to examine student characteristics (race/ethnicity/gender/social class) and curricular pathways (including coursework) by institution and over time. Because the dataset contains students records of all students matriculating over a period of time, researchers can study students across all disciplines, not solely engineering.
As of October 4, 2017, we have secured participation agreements from 27 institutions in addition to the original 11, bringing the total number of institutions in MIDFIELD to 38. In addition to collecting student record information, we are compiling academic policy information for each partner institution. We have also held workshops at engineering education conferences to educate the broader research community, expanding the network of researchers capable of conducting this research and the sharing of innovative research methods in addition to the actual data.
Whereas the project is designed to recruit a stratified sample of US institutions with engineering programs, institutions interested in joining MIDFIELD can typically be substituted for those originally targeted for recruitment. MIDFIELD partners have the opportunity to conduct peer comparisons, carry out research to inform local policies and practice, and receive unblinded information about their institution from partner researchers.
Due to the broad nature of the disciplines represented by MIDFIELD, this project has cross-Directorate support from the Directorates of Engineering, Math and Physical Sciences (MPS), and Education and Human Resources (EHR) as well as the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA). Within the MPS Directorate, this work is supported by Astronomy, and Physics; within EHR, this work is supported by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program.
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