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Title: Effects of High Impact Educational Practices on Engineering and Computer Science Student Participation, Persistence, and Success at Land Grant Universities – Year 2
The science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce contributes to the U.S. economy by supporting 67% of jobs and 69% of the gross domestic product [1]. Currently, there is an increased demand for engineering and computer science (E/CS) professionals, particularly those from underrepresented (e.g., gender, racial, ethnic) and underserved (socio-economic, geographically isolated) groups who bring diversity of thought and experience to the national E/CS workforce [2]. Correspondingly, educational institutions are called upon to develop capabilities to attract, engage, and retain students from these diverse backgrounds in E/CS programs of study. To encourage and enable diverse students to opt into and persist within E/CS programs of study, there is a critical need to engage students in supportive and enriching opportunities from which to learn and grow. The importance of student engagement for promoting student growth and development has been researched to such an extent that its utility is widely agreed upon [5]. Importantly, it has been shown that both academic and extracurricular aspects of a student’s learning processes are characterized by engagement [6]. High Impact Educational Practices (HIP) provide useful opportunities for deep student engagement and, thus, positively influence student retention and persistence [4]. Kuh [3] identified eleven curricular and extracurricular HIP (i.e., collaborative assignments and projects, common intellectual experiences, eportfolios, first year seminars and experiences, global learning more » and study abroad, internships, learning communities, senior culminating experiences, service and community-based learning, undergraduate research, and writing intensive courses). In computer science and engineering education fields, however, the extent to which HIP affects persistence and retention has not been fully investigated. This project aims to examine E/CS undergraduate student engagement in HIP and to understand the factors that contribute to positive engagement experiences. « less
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Effects of High Impact Educational Practices on Engineering and Computer Science Student Participation, Persistence, and Success at Land Grant Universities: Award# RIEF-1927218 – Year 2 Abstract Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this project aims to investigate and identify associations (if any) that exist between student participation in High Impact Educational Practices (HIP) and their educational outcomes in undergraduate engineering and computer science (E/CS) programs. To understand the effects of HIP participation among E/CS students from groups historically underrepresented and underserved in E/CS, this study takes place within the rural, public university context at two western land grant institutions (one of which is an Hispanic-serving institution). Conceptualizing diversity broadly, this study considers gender, race and ethnicity, and first-generation, transfer, and nontraditional student status to be facets of identity that contribute to the diversity of academic programs and the technical workforce. This sequential, explanatory, mixed-methods study is guided by the following research questions: 1. To what extent do E/CS students participate in HIP? 2. What relationships (if any) exist between E/CS student participation in HIP and their educational outcomes (i.e., persistence in major, academic performance, and graduation)? 3. How do contextual factors (e.g., institutional, programmatic, personal, social, financial, etc.) affectmore »E/CS student awareness of, interest in, and participation in HIP? During Project Year 1, a survey driven quantitative study was conducted. A survey informed by results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) from each institution was developed and deployed. Survey respondents (N = 531) were students enrolled in undergraduate E/CS programs at either institution. Frequency distribution analyses were conducted to assess the respondents’ level of participation in extracurricular HIPs (i.e., global learning and study aboard, internships, learning communities, service and community-based learning, and undergraduate research) that have been shown in the literature to positively impact undergraduate student success. Further statistical analysis was conducted to understand the effects of HIP participation, coursework enjoyability, and confidence at completing a degree on the academic success of underrepresented and nontraditional E/CS students. Exploratory factor analysis was used to derive an "academic success" variable from five items that sought to measure how students persevere to attain academic goals. Results showed that a linear relationship in the target population exists and that the resultant multiple regression model is a good fit for the data. During the Project Year 2, survey results were used to develop focus group interview protocols and guide the purposive selection of focus group participants. Focus group interviews were conducted with a total of 27 undergraduates (12 males, 15 females, 16 engineering students, 11 computer science students) across both institutions via video conferencing (i.e., ZOOM) during the spring and fall 2021 semesters. Currently, verified focus group transcripts are being systematically analyzed and coded by a team of four trained coders to identify themes and answer the research questions. This paper will provide an overview of the preliminary themes so far identified. Future project activities during Project Year 3 will focus on refining themes identified during the focus group transcript analysis. Survey and focus group data will then be combined to develop deeper understandings of why and how E/CS students participate in the HIP at their university, taking into account the institutional and programmatic contexts at each institution. Ultimately, the project will develop and disseminate recommendations for improving diverse E/CS student awareness of, interest in, and participation in HIP, at similar land grant institutions nationally.« less
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  3. Student engagement, especially among Engineering and Computer science majors (E/CS), has been a priority for researchers. Although considerable efforts have been made to improve college students' engagement and interest, underrepresented minority groups and first-generation students are still at risk of dropping out of engineering majors due to lack of inclusiveness, motivation, and other related factors. According to Kuh (2008), student participation in High-Impact Educational Practices (HIEP) is correlated with student outcomes such as persistence, performance, achievement, and intent to complete their current major. The present study reviews the existing National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, 2012, 2017) data from two western land-grant universities to fully capture participation through the survey of first-year students and seniors (N = 674). The HIEP considered include service-learning, learning communities, research with faculty, internship or field experience, study abroad, and culminating senior experience. These practices are designed to encourage meaningful interactions between faculty and students, foster collaboration with students within different demographics groups, and facilitate learning outside the classroom. Insights were gleaned from how the students interacted with HIEP based on special characteristics such as sex, race, age, enrollment status, and residence. The purpose of the present study is to examine the extent to whichmore »E/CS students participate in HIEP and its effects on student outcomes. This study also offers comparisons or possible relationships between student demographics, student success, and HIEP involvement. For example, the participation rates of HIEP on different engineering and computer science majors, including civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical, and materials engineering, etc., are analyzed to examine the practices that work for a particular E/CS major. The present study reports findings from NSSE 2012 and 2017 surveys. Results show that among the E/CS seniors, service-learning, learning community, and study abroad program are the HIEP with the lowest participation rate with 41% (service-learning), 59% (learning community), and 68% (study abroad program), indicating that they do not plan to engage in these practices in their senior year. Conversely, internships and culminating senior experiences had the most participation among E/CS seniors with 52% (internships) and 68% (culminating senior experiences. Interestingly, first-year students showed a significant interest to participate in the following HIEP: internships, study abroad programs, and culminating senior experiences – with 76% (internships), 47% (study abroad program), and 68% (culminating senior experiences) indicating plans to engage in these practices. Finally, findings show that participation or engagement in HIEP is a significant predictor of student learning outcomes. Findings of this review may serve as a guide for future research in E/CS student participation in HIEP. The paper concludes with theoretical and practical implications of the findings on student engagement and learning. Key words: NSSE, high impact educational practices, Engagement« less
  4. Despite efforts to attract and retain more students in engineering and computer science — particularly women and students from underrepresented groups — diversity within these educational programs and the technical workforce remains stubbornly low. Research shows that undergraduate retention, persistence, and success in college is affected by several factors, including sense of belonging, task value, positive student-faculty interactions, school connectedness, and student engagement [1], [2]. Kuh [1] found that improvement in persistence, performance, and graduation for students in college were correlated to students’ level of participation in particular activities known as high impact educational practices (HIEP). HIEP include, among others, culminating experiences, learning communities, service learning, study abroad, and undergraduate research; Kuh [1] concluded that these activities may be effective at promoting overall student success. Kuh [1] and others [3] further hypothesized that participation in HIEP may especially benefit students from non-majority groups. Whether and how engineering and computer science students benefit from participating in HIEP and whether students from non-majority groups have access to HIEP activities, however, remain as questions to investigate. In this project, we examine engineering and computer science student participation in HIEP at two public land grant institutions. In this study, we seek to understand howmore »and why students participate in HIEP and how participation affects their persistence and success in engineering and computer science majors. Set within the rural, public land grant university context, this study conceptualizes diversity in a broad sense and includes women, members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, first generation college students, adult learners, and nontraditional student as groups contributing to the diversity of academic programs and the technical workforce.« less
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