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Title:Should I stay or should I go? Interests, values, fit, and retention of engineering students
Author(s):Earl, Katherine A.
Director of Research:Rounds, James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rounds, James
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Elliott-Litchfield, Bruce; Herman, Geoffrey; Su, Rong
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Counseling Psychology, Engineering Education, Vocational Interests, Work Values, Retention
Abstract:With dropping numbers of high school students interested in pursuing engineering degrees and an increasing demand for engineering graduates in the workforce, it is extremely problematic that an estimated forty to seventy percent of undergraduate engineering students switch to non-engineering majors or drop out entirely. The areas of interests, values, and fit together have not been examined within the engineering population despite a wealth of research pointing to their importance; therefore, the present study assesses engineering students at two time points to examine their interests, values, and various measures of fit as they relate to retention and career plans. A total of 199 engineering students at a large, midwestern university completed surveys during both data collections. Analyses revealed that Holland’s (1997) broad model of interests was out-performed by the domain-specific Engineering Interest Intrinsic Value measure when predicting retention-related intentions. Results indicated that value profiles are more informative than interest profiles when predicting engineering students’ retention-related intentions early on in their academic careers. Similarly, stability of value profiles rather than stability of interest profiles led to increased intentions to stay in one’s engineering major and plans to pursue an engineering-related career. Additionally, higher fit scores strongly related to plans to stay in one’s engineering major and to pursue a career in engineering after graduation. Over all, the present study’s results indicate that the traditional method of using interest inventories to help determine a student’s major, and, in turn, career, should be modified, at least for engineering students. Over all, the present study’s results suggest a shift away from the use of broad interest inventories and toward the use of domain-specific interest measures, value profiles, and fit measures to promote retention-related outcomes for engineering students.
Issue Date:2018-02-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Katherine Earl
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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