2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Exploring Engineering Identity in a Common Introduction to Engineering Course to Improve Retention

Presented at First-Year Programs: Paying More Attention to Retention

This complete research paper describes the efficacy of first-year retention interventions focused on engineering identity that were developed for a common Introduction to Engineering course. This research aims to improve retention rates where presently about half of the engineering undergraduate students exit or drop out. The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) has indicated that engineering universities should develop retention programs to reduce these numbers. One of the main recommendations is to develop first-year retention programs. At one university, two engineering professors developed first-year retention interventions into the common Introduction to Engineering course they teach. The main interventions employed included refocusing the course on engineering identity. To measure if these interventions were effective, an engineering identity pre and post survey was given to four common Introduction to Engineering courses, which comprised of 169 high school and undergraduate students who completed the courses taught in 2016.

The survey instrument used in this study was largely adopted from Prybutok, Patrick, Borrego, Seepersad, and Kiristis who completed a similar study. This paper discusses the quantitative results from these engineering identity pre and post surveys. Engineering factors that significantly improved from the pre to the post surveys included: performance/competence, design efficacy, recognition by others, and recognition by self. The other engineering factors measured that were found to not have significantly improved included: interest, creativity, caring, and major selection. These interventions improved the students’ engineering identities. Future work should include conducting a paired survey where the participants’ pre and post survey results are connected. Future work should also include analyzing the qualitative data provided in these surveys.

  1. Dr. Michele Yatchmeneff University of Alaska Anchorage [biography]
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