To Stay or to Switch? Why Students Leave Engineering Programs
Using the perspectives of switchers, administrators, and staff, this chapter examines students’ decisions to switch from engineering and enter another field. Switchers and current students, referred to as persisters, face similar problems in their pursuit of engineering degrees. Both sets of students question their ability to fit with peers and departmental values and goals. Members of the administration and staff at the four universities as well as switchers from the University of South Florida (USF) offer important perspectives on attrition in engineering programs. As discussed in upcoming chapters, persisters openly describe the challenges they are facing during interviews and focus groups. Nonetheless, they lack perspective on why anybody would switch from engineering to another major. Persisters may depersonalize their responses, unwilling to acknowledge any obstacles preventing them from graduating. Some students are reluctant to openly discuss problems affecting their own academic performance. Current students also have limited knowledge of factors that might discourage other students from continuing in engineering. On the other hand, faculty, administrators, and staff have watched many students leave the discipline over the years and understand the reasons for departure from engineering.
KeywordsCultural Capital Engineering Program Black Student Stereotype Threat Engineering Student
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