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Persistence, Engagement, and Migration in Engineering Programs
Mechanical Engineering
  • Matthew W Ohland, Purdue University
  • Sheri D Sheppard, Stanford University
  • Gary Lichtenstein, Stanford University
  • Ozgur Eris, Franklin W Olin College of Engineering
  • Debbie Chachra, Franklin W Olin College of Engineering
  • Richard A Layton, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
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Records from the Multiple-Institution Database for
Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development indicate
that engineering students are typical of students in other majors
with respect to: persistence in major; persistence by gender and
ethnicity; racial/ethnic distribution; and grade distribution. Data
from the National Survey of Student Engagement show that this
similarity extends to engagement outcomes including course challenge,
faculty interaction, satisfaction with institution, and overall
satisfaction. Engineering differs from other majors most notably
by a dearth of female students and a low rate of migration into the
major. Noting the similarity of students of engineering and other
majors with respect to persistence and engagement, we propose
that engagement is a precursor to persistence. We explore this
hypothesis using data from the Academic Pathways Study of the
Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. Further
exploration reveals that although persistence and engagement do
not vary as much as expected by discipline, there is significant
institutional variation, and we assert a need to address persistence
and engagement at the institutional level and throughout higher
education. Finally, our findings highlight the potential of making
the study of engineering more attractive to qualified students.
Our findings suggest that a two-pronged approach holds the
greatest potential for increasing the number of students graduating
with engineering degrees: identify programming that retains
the students who come to college committed to an engineering
major, and develop programming and policies that allow other
students to migrate in. There is already considerable discourse on
persistence, so our findings suggest that more research focus is
needed on the pathways into engineering, including pathways
from other majors.


© (2008) ASEE/JEE. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the ASEE & JEE.

Citation Information
Matthew W Ohland, Sheri D Sheppard, Gary Lichtenstein, Ozgur Eris, et al.. "Persistence, Engagement, and Migration in Engineering Programs" (2008)
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