ERIC Number: ED445937
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Jan
Reference Count: N/A
Faculty and Student Interaction and Learning Styles of Engineering Undergraduates.
Derlin, R. L.; McShannon, J. L.
The problem of low graduation rates for diverse students in engineering has many causes. Low retention rates for all students in the first two years of an engineering program is a significant problem which must be addressed if universities are going to increase the number of graduates in engineering programs. Faculty and administrators agree, not all students can, or should, become engineers. But, are the "right" students leaving? Are all the "leavers" the students who are unable to handle to coursework? While many factors influence a university student's decision to remain or leave a particular field of study or the pursuit of higher education entirely, one factor considered to be relevant is their learning style. This study examined an hypothesized six-factor model of interactive learning styles. Interactive learning styles refers to the learning style students use when learning new information by relating to their environment. Do they interact with other students or with their faculty? Do they interact differently during class than after class? The study sample was 515 undergraduate engineering students enrolled in the three engineering colleges in New Mexico. An exploratory factor analysis using SAS and a confirmatory factor analysis using LISREL was performed on the responses to the survey. The analyses of the data did not support the hypothesized model for interactive learning styles. However, the analysis did suggest an alternative model; and, did support the hypotheses that interactive learning styles are different among various respondent subgroups including, male and female, white and minority, and freshman and seniors. While the interactive learning style of students learning by themselves contributed most to the success of five of the seven respondent groups, the two groups which have the lowest retention rate nationwide, minorities and freshman, did not state learning by themselves contributed most highly to their success. Learning with other students contributed most highly to minority students' success, and learning with faculty in an informal environment, outside of class, contributed most to the freshman students' success. While traditional instructional strategies appear to support the students who are traditionally successful in engineering program, they may fail to provide the same opportunities to their more diverse students. By providing the information learned about interactive learning styles, engineering administrators and faculty can become aware of alternative instructional strategies which can encourage the same level of participation and inclusion by these diverse students. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Mexico