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Programs and Factors that Make a Difference in Recruiting & Retaining of Women Engineering Students. Lois Calian Trautvetter Northwestern University NCEER January 20, 2012. Prototyping the Engineer 2020 (P360): A 360-Degree Study of Effective Education http://www.ed.psu.edu/educ/e2020.

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Prototyping the Engineer 2020 (P360):

A 360-Degree Study of Effective Education


Lisa R. Lattuca,Professor of Education & Senior Scientist, [email protected]

Patrick T. Terenzini, Professor of Education &Senior Scientist Emeritus, [email protected]

Gül E. Kremer, Associate Professor, Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering

Betty J. Harper and Alexander C. Yin,Senior Project Associates

Kevin Barron, Saraj Gupta, Hyun Kyoung Ro, India McHale, David Knight, Dan Merson,

David Perez, and Travis York Graduate Research Assistants

Betsy Palmer, Associate Professor of Education

Sarah L. Codd, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Carolyn S. Plumb, Director of Educational Innovation and Strategic Projects

Barbara Komlos, Graduate Research Assistant

Rose M. Marra, Associate Professor of Learning Technologies

Katie Piacentini, Graduate Research Assistant

Lois C. Trautvetter, Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Higher Education Administration, and Policy

Ann F. McKenna, Associate Professor of Engineering, Arizona State University

Tonya Saddler, Post-Doctoral Student

Carla Cortes, Graduate Research Assistant

The Prototype to Production: P2P

Study Research Team http://www.ed.psu.edu/educ/e2020

Lisa R. Lattuca, [email protected]

Professor of Education and Senior Scientist Patrick T. Terenzini, [email protected]

Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior Scientist EmeritusGül E. Kremer

Associate Professor of Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering

Thomas A. Litzinger

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Leonhard Center

Betty J. Harper and Alexander C. Yin

Senior Project Associates

Kevin W. Barron, Saraj Gupta, David B. Knight,Amber D. Lambert, India M. McHale, Daniel S. Merson, David Perez II,Hyun Kyoung Ro, and Travis T. York

Graduate Research Assistants

Ardie D. Walser

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Latif Jiji

Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Mechanical Engineering

the engineer of 2020 report
The Engineer of 2020 Report

Attributes of the Engineer of 2020

  • Strong analytical skills
  • Practical ingenuity
  • Creativity
  • Communication competencies (oral, written, and cultural)
  • Business, management, and leadership skills
  • High ethical standards and professionalism
  • Agility, resilience, flexibility

Diversifying the STEM student population

A Vision of the Contexts for Engineering in 2020

Emergence of new fields, tools, and contexts Examples: bio-tech, digital systems; computer systems/tools; sustainable technology; multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, social, political & economic, diversity; global markets & contexts; interaction of engineering and public policy

conceptual framework
Conceptual Framework

(Adapted from Terenzini and Reason, 2005)

today s agenda
Today’s Agenda
  • Overview of two NSF-funded studies:
    • Prototyping the Engineer of 2020 (“P360” case studies)
    • Prototype to Production (“P2P” surveys)
  • P360 Case-study themes for recruitment and retention
  • Selected P2P survey findings that corroborate P360 findings
  • Challenges/Questions
prototyping the engineer of 2020 a 360 degree study of effective education p360
Prototyping the Engineer of 2020:A 360-degree Study of Effective Education (P360)

Overarching Goals:

  • Identify:
    • curricular, instructional, cultural, and organizational factors that produce graduates with the attributes of the engineer of 2020
    • factors supporting recruitment and retention of women and historically underrepresented students


  • Empirically identified engineering schools out-performing others in:
    • producing graduates who resemble the engineer of 2020
    • attracting and graduating women and underrepresented students
  • Conducted 6 case studies of curricula, pedagogy, faculty culture, and internal policies and procedures promoting student outcomes
p2p study methods
P2P Study Methods


  • Six national surveys assessing the alignment of undergraduate programs with the goals and attributes of TheEngineer of 2020

Stratified, random sample of 31 institutions, including:

  • 7 engineering disciplines
    • biomedical, chemical, civil, electrical, general, industrial, mechanical
  • 3 levels of highest degree offered (bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral) offered
  • 2 levels of control: Public and private institutions
  • Includes the P360 institutions and 5 minority-serving institutions
p2p institutional sample 4 year
P2P Institutional Sample (4-year)

1 P360 _Institution

2 Historically _Black Colleges _or University

3 Hispanic-_Serving_Institution

guiding research questions
Guiding Research Questions:

What institutional cultures, practices, and policies play a role in recruiting women undergraduates?

What outreach, summer/bridge, or other women-in-engineering support programs and practices encourage the retention of female students?

How do these efforts aid the recruitment and retention of female students in engineering?

recruitment of women engineers case study findings
Recruitment of Women Engineers:Case Study Findings

Found three themes:

  • Commitment and institutional characteristicsappear to be influential
  • Flexible and strategic admissions and “high touch” efforts make a difference
  • Strong outreach efforts for women exist
recruitment theme commitment and institutional characteristics
Recruitment Theme: Commitment and Institutional Characteristics
  • Strong commitment to recruiting women
  • Strong leadership and commitment to diversity and diversity programming
  • Critical mass of women students
  • Female presidents and faculty encourage action
recruitment theme flexible strategic high touch admissions policies practices
Recruitment Theme: Flexible, Strategic, & “High Touch” Admissions Policies & Practices
  • Flexible admissions approaches – high math scores passion and creativity
  • Personal contact by President, Dean, and faculty
  • Student organizations are involved
  • Customized recruitment materials
  • Collaboration with admissions staff and engineering Dean and faculty
  • Involvement of administrators, faculty, and students creates welcoming/appealing climate
recruitment theme strong outreach programs
Recruitment Theme: Strong Outreach Programs
  • Breaking the white male engineering stereotype
  • Strong faculty, graduate and undergraduate involvement in these programs
  • Outreach programs are targeted for elementary, middle school, and high school students
faculty participation in recruiting women and urm students past 3 years
Faculty Participation in Recruiting Women and URM Students (past 3 years)

By Gender and Race/ethnicity


*** p < .001

faculty and program chair opinions about promoting diversity and academic excellence
Faculty and Program Chair Opinions about Promoting Diversity and Academic Excellence

“It's very difficult to increase student diversity without sacrificing academic quality.”


retention of women engineers case study findings
Retention of Women Engineers:Case Study Findings

Found five themes:

  • Positive, encouraging campus climate
  • Support services during early undergraduate years
  • Strong ties to faculty and student interaction in and out of the classroom
  • High support for student organizations and activities
  • Learning and living communities
retention theme campus climate
Retention Theme: Campus Climate
  • Presence of female faculty as well as students creates positive environment
  • Academic and intellectual qualities are valued – sense of belonging
  • Collaborative efforts among various offices and departments encourage a supportive atmosphere
retention theme support services during early undergraduate years
Retention Theme: Support Services during Early Undergraduate Years
  • Efforts to raise awareness of different engineering majors during the first year – lab, seminar, and project orientated experiences for all students
  • Summer Bridge and new support programs serve as a welcoming event and orientation for all students
  • Interaction with peer advisors and use of peer-mentoring programs targeted for females
the importance of support services to women students
The Importance of Support Services toWomen Students

How important to your academic success in engineering are the services of a learning/tutoring center at your college?

  • Women: 2.84; Men: 2.55

significantly different

1: Not at all important, 2: slightly, 3: moderately, 4: very, 5: extremely

retention theme strong ties to faculty and student interaction
Retention Theme: Strong Ties to Faculty and Student Interaction
  • Women faculty and students share common experiences
  • Faculty view themselves as role models
  • Commitment to providing undergraduate research opportunities with faculty, alumni, and industry sponsors benefit females
faculty view themselves as role models
Faculty view themselves as role models
  • In a typical week, how much time do you spend interacting informally with undergraduates outside of class?
  • Women: 2.61, Men: 2.40

significantly different

1: 1 hour or less, 2: 2-3 hours, 3: 4-5 hours, 4: 6-7 hours, 5: 8 hours or more

P2P Data:

Student Responses about Faculty Interactions

P2P Data:

Commitment to Providing Research Opportunities

No significant gender differences

retention theme high support for student organizations activities
Retention Theme: High Support for Student Organizations & Activities
  • Play a key role in community building and recruiting
  • Provide a positive influence on learning and leadership for females
  • Foster a welcoming climate
  • Provide a peer mentoring component
P2P Data:

Gender Differences in Activities

student level of activity in clubs by gender
Student Level of Activity in Clubs by Gender





*** p < .001

1= Not active 2= Slightly active 3= Moderately active 4= Highly active 5= Extremely active

retention theme learning and living communities
Retention Theme: Learning and Living Communities

Four of the six institutions had “learning and living” communities:

  • First year residential experience
  • Seminar – focusing on lectures and small work sessions
  • Informal study sessions
  • Finding other female engineering students – “divide and conquer”
P2P Gender Differences in Living Communities

Since enrolling in college, how many years have you lived in a residence area specifically for majors in engineering, science, or math?

Female: .24

Male: .13

(significant difference by gender)


Early programs and practices help to increase representation of women in engineering by:

  • Capitalizing on existing diversity of peer environment, alumni, the institution’s facilities and sources
  • Creating early opportunities for faculty/student interaction in outreach, bridge, and support programs
  • Building a sense of community

Creating the sense that “anybody can be an engineer”

I think anybody can be an engineer, as a matter of fact that is the problem for us. Engineers that we have now and we have young women and young men [come] away . . .it looks boring, it looks too hard. . . We want to try not to make it that, and one of the ways is to use, of course, people, but it is to use technology toward the way of making it fun, making it interesting, and making it so you can do it. It doesn’t really need any special talent. Everybody can do it.

-- faculty member

Preparing the Engineers of 2020

For more information:Project Web Page:http://www.ed.psu.edu/educ/e2020Funding Source: NSF DUE-0618712FNSF DUE-0618712 e: NSF DUE-0618712