Engineering undergraduate attrition and contributing factors

Susan Haag, Norma Hubele, Antonio Garcia, Karen McBeath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The current work environment requires engineers to be global citizens, as well as aspirational, ethical leaders. To foster this new generation of engineering talent, modern curricula must advance strong analytical skills, creativity, professionalism, and leadership. However, a new curriculum with poor student retention cannot be deemed successful. The key components of a successful curriculum appear to be well-designed academic programs, dedicated faculty and strong support services. At the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering (FSE), we believe that we possess these key components and yet approximately 65% of enrolled students leave our School. There is widespread speculation about the reasons for leaving, including financial need and lack of academic preparedness. To address these national and local attrition-related phenomena, a survey was designed to obtain clear quantitative information about why students leave FSE. During the fall 2005, students, who over several years transferred from engineering to a different school within ASU, were asked to complete an online survey. The hope was that information gained could be a basis for decision making and assessing proposed improvements for increasing retention. The aim of the study was to discover factors with the greatest bearing upon the decision to leave engineering. This research elicited student attitudes concerning educational experiences in their new major contrasted to their engineering experiences. The key questions investigated in this research are: What factors contribute to the decision to leave FSE? How does the student's experience in their new major compare to their experience in engineering? What factors in our programs promote loss of student talent?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-940
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007


  • Advising
  • Assessment
  • Culture
  • Curriculum
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Faculty
  • Persistence
  • Retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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