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Graduation rates, grade-point average, and changes of major of female and minority students entering engineering

by M.J. Borrego, M.A. Padilla, Guili Zhang Guili Zhang, M.W. Ohland, T.J. Anderson
Proceedings Frontiers in Education 35th Annual Conference ()

Abstract

This paper describes analysis of five cohorts of students matriculating into undergraduate engineering programs at nine southeastern universities from 1996-2002. We report retention by semester and graduation success as a percentage of all matriculated students. For students subsequently leaving engineering, we also report grade-point average, departure semester, and destination major. Statistical analyses determined which differences were significant between underrepresented and majority students. The results are compared to a previous study of engineering students at a private institution (University of Southern California). The most striking result was that the graduation rates both within engineering and elsewhere in the university are higher for female students than for males. This was true for both the current and previous data sets. Analysis of previous cohorts in the current data set indicates that this trend begins with the 1992 freshman cohort. Differences between the two studies indicate that students at the private university, particularly females, were quicker to switch out of engineering majors. In other words, retention rates in the first few semesters were lower at the private university than in the current study, though both sets converged to similar values by the junior year

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