Critical questions of engineering students by gender and ethnicity

Armando Rodriguez, Mary R. Anderson-Rowland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

11 Scopus citations


Engineering and computer science careers are not well known to the general public. Most students studying these majors also have limited knowledge and information about their chosen area of study. In working with students over many years, the authors have experienced many questions from these students. As part of the evaluations for Academic Success Meetings, the students have been encouraged to ask questions about areas that they need to know more about. The questions tend to repeat themselves and fall into general categories. Not all students have mentors to answer these questions. Starting with the most important, the answers to all of these questions will go on a website that has been developed especially for transfer students under a National Science Foundation Step Award # 0836050. An initial 136 questions were presented to over 100 students. The students were asked to choose the 20 most critical questions to them. From this data, in an earlier paper, the top five questions were determined for students over 21 and the top five for students 21 and under, as well as by academic level. In this paper the similarities and differences in these critical questions by gender and by race/ethnicity are considered. The males and females in this study had two questions in common for their top five: 'Why should I consider getting a PhD degree in engineering?' and 'How do I choose a job?' The three race/Ethnicity groups of White, Hispanic/Latino, and Other/Unknown had only one question in common: 'Will there be a job for me when I graduate?' Each of the three two-pair combinations had one question in common. The differences in critical questions by gender and ethnicity will also be discussed. The information determined here will help educators and advisors encourage potential and actual students in engineering and computer science. With this information they can focus their message by honing in on the critical questions of their particular audience. These questions and their answers can also be used for intentional advising.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2012 Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationSoaring to New Heights in Engineering Education, FIE 2012 - Proceedings
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Event42nd Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2012 - Seattle, WA, United States
Duration: Oct 3 2012Oct 6 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Other42nd Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySeattle, WA


  • critcal engineering questions
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • intentional advisiing
  • recruitment
  • retention
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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