First-Year Engineering Students in Newly Accredited Programs: Enrollment and Persistence Demographics

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This paper examines enrollment and persistence trends among first year students in recently accredited electrical and mechanical engineering programs at a predominantly undergraduate-oriented non-research intensive university where the programs grew from existing technology programs. Data analyzed in this longitudinal study includes transcript information and student surveys for students enrolled in an introductory engineering course during a six-year period. Until now, the programs have relied on a convenience sample of students with minimal program promotion or recruitment. Quantitative analysis was performed on the distributions of student interest and math preparedness upon enrollment in the introductory course. Additionally, within-program and within-university persistence was quantified and compared to math level and grade earned in the introductory course. Enrollment in the introductory course is growing at an acceptable rate. However, demographics are shifting towards students who are unprepared to complete Calculus I simultaneously. Furthermore, for the unprepared math students, persistence is very poor (10% of trigonometry and algebra students, 27% of Precalculus students), but for students on-track in math, persistence is much better (28% of Calculus I students, 63% of post-Calculus I students). Lastly, A Precalculus co-requisite with the introductory course may reduce enrollment by 18% but should only reduce number of majors by 5% or less. Results of this study may be informative for universities looking to begin engineering programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-544
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012


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