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Raelin, Joseph A.
Bailey, Margaret B.
Hamann, Jerry
Pendleton, Leslie K.
Reisberg, Rachelle
Whitman, David L.
Year of Publication: 
[Journal:] Journal of Engineering Education [ISSN:] 2168-9830 [Volume:] 103 [Issue:] 4 [Publisher:] Wiley [Place:] Hoboken, NJ [Year:] 2014 [Pages:] 599-624
Wiley, Hoboken, NJ
Background: Longstanding data have established that women earn about 20% of undergraduate degrees in engineering. It has also been reported that women students have lower academic self-efficacy in the STEM fields than men. In this study, we seek to probe into these findings through a longitudinal design that explores whether cooperative education can improve the retention of women (as well as of men) in their undergraduate studies. Purpose: This study examines the effect on retention of demographic characteristics, cooperative education, contextual support, and three dimensions of self-efficacy - work, career, and academic - and their change over time. It incorporates longitudinal measures as well as a data check at the end of the students' fifth year. Design/Method: Respondents filled out 20-minute surveys, spaced out over approximately one year during three separate time periods. A number of new scales were introduced and validated in the study. The data were submitted to successive analyses over each time period. Results: The findings verified the study's pathways model. Academic achievement and academic self-efficacy as well as contextual support in all time periods were found to be critical to retention. Work self-efficacy, developed by students between their second and fourth years, was also an important factor in retention, though it was strongly tied to the students' participation in co-op programs. Higher retention was associated with an increased numbers of co-ops completed by students. Conclusion: This study has revealed that the reciprocal relationships between work self-efficacy and co-op participation and between academic self-efficacy and academic achievement play a critical role in retention.
work self-efficacy
cooperative education
student retention
women in engineering
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Accepted Manuscript (Postprint)
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