First-year engineering students' perceptions of engineering disciplines: A qualitative investigation
In understanding undergraduate students' success in college, their choice of career path must be fully understood. Different paths are appropriate for different students, and even a student may not fully grasp what will work best for them. Understanding the mechanisms behind a successful choice in college major is important for several reasons. Retention is necessary for the continued health of engineering programs. One of the earliest steps in this career path is selecting a major. Research has been done investigating major selection across all majors, and even focusing onSTEMcareers. This research has frequently overlooked the broad variety present in engineering majors with very limited research conducted that distinguishes between one engineering major and another. This paper seeks to address this absence by surveying engineering students from several different majors at three different institutions. The data for this paper was gathered using surveys of first year engineers at three dissimilar institutions. The survey data examined were open-response questions. These questions asked students to describe how they viewed specific engineering career paths. It is the goal of analyzing these responses to gain better insight into the student perception of various engineering majors. The data was coded through an inductive coding process. This coding process resulted in nine unique codes. The codes were analyzed to allow broader trends to surface. The results of this analysis have shown that not only do students in different engineering majors view these disciplines differently, but also that students at these different institutions view engineering differently.
Kajfez, RL; Kecskemety, KM; Miller, ES; Gustafson, KE; Meyers, KL; Bucks, GW; Tanner, K
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