The Relationship of Learning Communities to Engineering Students' Perceptions of the Freshman Year Experience, Academic Performance, and Persistence
1 online resource (140 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
The purpose of this correlational study was to examine the effects of a residential learning community and enrollment in an introductory engineering course to engineering students' perceptions of the freshman year experience, academic performance, and persistence. The sample included students enrolled in a large, urban, public, research university in the fall semesters of 2005-2007. Students' perceptions regarding their choice of major, sense of community, the learning environment, academic advising, and competencies required by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (2009) were operationalized using items from the College of Engineering annual student survey. Incoming characteristics of predicted grade index and level of parental education were incorporated into the study. Structural equation modeling was used to test the goodness-of-fit of the sample data to two hypothesized models that represented competing theories or conceptualizations of the freshman year experience. A hierarchical logistic regression was also conducted to predict re-enrollment in the College of Engineering in the second semester of the sophomore year. Results indicated that neither learning community influenced students' perceptions of the freshman year experience or sophomore year retention despite historical data that consistently demonstrate the positive effect of the residential learning community on freshman year retention rates. Of the variables considered, only students' perceptions of the major had a moderate direct effect on both outcomes. Parental education level and academic performance were also significant predictors of persistence. Of particular interest was the finding that students whose parents had not earned a four-year college degree were more than twice as likely to persist in the College of Engineering than their peers who had a least one college-educated parent.
EngineeringMathematics--Study and teachingCurriculum planning
ABETFirst-Year ExperienceFreshman EngineeringLearning CommunitiesRetentionSocial Learning
Curriculum & Instruction
Flowers, ClaudiaPugalee, DavidSharer, Deborah
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2009.
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