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Title: A Characterization of Engineering and Computer Science Undergraduate Participation in High-impact Educational Practices at Two Western Land-grant Institutions
Currently, substantial efforts are underway to improve the engagement and retention of engineering and computer science (E/CS) students in their academic programs. Student participation in specific activities known as High Impact Educational Practices (HIP) has been shown to improve student outcomes across a variety of degree fields. Thus, we suggest that understanding how and why E/CS students, especially those from historically underrepresented groups, participate in HIP is vital for supporting efforts aimed at improving E/CS student engagement and retention. The aim of the current study is to examine the participation of E/CS undergraduates enrolled at two western land-grant institutions (both institutions are predominantly white; one is an emerging Hispanic-serving institution) across five HIEP (i.e., global learning and study aboard internships, learning communities, service and community-based learning, and undergraduate research) that are offered outside of required E/CS curricula and are widely documented in the research literature. As part of a larger study, researchers developed an online questionnaire to explore student HIP participation and then surveyed E/CS students (n = 576) across both land-grant institutions. Subsequently, researchers will use survey results to inform the development of focus groups interview protocols. Focus group interviews will be conducted with purposefully selected E/CS students who participated in the survey. Combined survey and focus group data will then be analyzed to more deeply understand why and how E/CS students participate in the HIP at their university. This research paper reports on the frequency distribution analysis of the survey data generated with E/CS undergraduates enrolled at one of the two land grant institutions. The combined sample included E/CS undergraduates from the following demographic groups: female (34 %), Asian (10 %), Black or African American (2%), Hispanic or Latinx (6%), Native American or Alaskan Native (1%), Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (1%), White (81 %), and multiracial (4 %). Results show that most (38%) E/CS students reported participating in internships, while study abroad programs garnered the smallest level of E/CS student participation (5%) across all five HIP. Internships were found most likely to engage diverse students: Female (42%), Hispanic or Latinx (24%), Multiracial (44%), Asian (31%), First-generation (29%), and nontraditional students—other than those categorized as highly nontraditional—all reported participating in internships more than any other HIP. Notable differences in participation across E/CS and demographic groups were found for other HIPs. Results further revealed that 43% of respondents did not participate in any extracurricular HIP and only 19% participated in two or more HIP. Insights derived from the survey and used to inform ongoing quantitative and qualitative analyses are discussed. Keywords: community-based learning, high impact educational practices, HIP, internships learning communities, service learning, study aboard, undergraduate research  more » « less
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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings
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National Science Foundation
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