Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Engineering Education

Advisor/Chair:

V. Dean Adams

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Idalis Villanueva

Third Advisor:

Kurt Becker

Abstract

About half of the students that are declared engineering majors end up leaving engineering within their first two years at the university. This happens following the required math and science courses that these students must take before getting into the technical engineering coursework. There are two systems that students must be a part of at the university to feel comfortable and have the desire to continue on in their degree. These include the academic system and the social system. The experiences engineering students have during their first required math course, Calculus I, is likely not promoting integration into these two systems.

This study analyzed student grade data from Calculus I for trends about student persistence in engineering, along with interviewing students about their experience in Calculus I. These analyses revealed that students do not integrate into the social system of engineering during this course and only persisting students show some positive signs of integration into the academic system. This indicates that there are many gaps in the engineering student experience during their early career that can help these students feel like they belong in engineering and want to stay. Fortunately, there are many areas that can easily be remedied to provide a better social and academic experience in Calculus I to help increase the number of students that remain in engineering until graduation.

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