Research ascribes that a variety of factors (e.g. course load, poor instruction, financial restraints) contribute to students' decisions to change majors and to drop out of college. Less well understood, however, is the influence of a sense of belonging on student persistence, particularly within engineering. Several studies have connected sense of belonging with retention, but few have focused on the relationship between specific programs and longitudinal retention among engineering students. In this study, researchers examined the long-term effects of a suite of strategies designed to enhance a sense of belonging of engineering students. To evaluate these reforms, an interrupted time series approach was utilized. Fourteen annual cohorts were examined from 1998 through 2013. Trends were first evaluated among the engineering students as a whole, and then by gender and ethnicity. Overall, the rate of retention increased at an average rate of 1.1% per year. Prior to reforms, retention was on the upswing but only at a rate of 0.9% per year. Following the new strategies, this rate nearly doubled to 1.6% per year. Finally, it is noted that the increase in retention occurred alongside an increase in the overall size of the engineering student body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationLaunching a New Vision in Engineering Education, FIE 2015 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781479984534
StatePublished - Dec 2 2015
Event2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2015 - El Paso, United States
Duration: Oct 21 2015Oct 24 2015

Publication series

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


Other2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityEl Paso


  • co-curricular
  • persistence
  • retention
  • sense of belonging
  • student support programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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