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First-Year Engineering Program Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities in First-Year Engineering Program

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It’s Not Just Pulling Straws: Research on Informed Selection of an Engineering Major

Description: Through the First-Year Engineering Program at Notre Dame we collect data from students (both qualitative and quantitative) on the process by which they learn about the different engineering disciplines and how they ultimately select which engineering major they wish to pursue. The objective of this engineering education based research project is to understand:

Background: Engineering educational and professional persistence are based on students making an informed selection of an engineering major.

Purpose/hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to explore the engineering major discernment process for First-Year Engineering students. It was hypothesized that students would become more certain of their engineering major selection over the course of their first year and that a majority of students will change majors from what they initially indicate after learning about the different pathways.

Design/method: This fully integrated mixed method study utilizes the survey responses of all students in the First-Year Engineering Program during the 2018-2019 school year ~500 student reflections and surveys.

Research Questions:

1. Describe how First-Year Engineering intent students initially select an engineering major?

2. Explore how student certainty in terms of studying engineering and their selection of an engineering major? And how does student certainty with an engineering major change over the course of the first year?

3. Consider which student’s change majors? And which students indicate that their engineering major choices were reinforced through exploration?

Student involvement: (1) analyze survey responses, (2) qualitatively code surveys, (3) review related engineering educational literature, (4) collaborate with 2 faculty members in writing a journal article.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Excel, Statistics, Research Methods

Optional information such as limitations on schedule, preferred universities, etc.: Someone that is self
directed with meetings with faculty a few times per week

Contact: Assistant Dean for Student Development and Director of Women in Engineering, Kerry L. Meyers, Ph.D., 208 Cushing Hall, (574) 631-1229 ()