Understanding Student Retention in Engineering

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

2019 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

First page number:


Last page number:



The Academy of Engineering Success (AcES) program employs known best practices to support engineering students with the goal of retaining them through graduation and diversifying the engineering workforce. The AcES program started in 2012 and has been supported by NSF S-STEM award number DUE-1644119 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 awarded to students since 2016. AcES 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. AcES 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 insight into the quantitative survey results. Surprisingly, a previous analysis of the 2017 cohort survey responses revealed that students who left engineering had higher baseline values of GRIT, career expectations, engineering self-efficacy, and math outcome efficacy than those students who retained. Hence, the 2018 cohort survey responses were analyzed in relation to retention and are presented along with qualitative results to provide a holistic understanding of student retention. Results from both the 2017 and 2018 cohorts are presented and discussed in the paper and poster.


The academy of engineering success; Engineering students; Societal development; Curricular and co-curricular activities; Goals


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology



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