Who leaves and when do they go? Retention and attrition in engineering education

Stipes Publishing LLC
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Godfrey Elizabeth et al. 2010, 'Who leaves and when do they go? Retention and attrition in engineering education', , Stipes Publishing LLC, USA, , pp. F3E-1-F3E-6.
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At a time of high demand for engineering graduates, the mean graduation completion rate of engineering undergraduates in Australia has been identified as approximately 54% (with considerable variation across institutions and sectors). This paper reports on the initial results of cohort analyses undertaken at two engineering degree granting institutions as part of a multi institutional project seeking to understand and reduce student attrition from engineering degrees across Australia. Both institutions have a predominantly urban student population and location, but whilst one offers a conventional four year degree the other integrates two semesters of internship into its degree structure. A cohort analysis procedure, tracking pathways to completion or non-completion of the degree, applicable across diverse institutions, was piloted. Attributes such as gender, academic background, full or part time study, engineering major and student maturity were identified for each member of the cohort. The patterns revealed by these fine grained cohort analyses challenged some anecdotal perceptions and provided evidence of the inadequate nature of generalizations around attrition statistics, and the need for institutional context and culture to be considered.
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