Rocky Mountain Scholars Program: Impact on Female Undergraduate Engineering Students – Social and Academic Support, Retention, and Success

Mark Brown, Matthew P. Hitt, Alyssa Stephens, Ellyn M Dickmann

Abstract


The Rocky Mountain Scholars Program (RMSP) was developed, in part, to improve student success and persistence in Engineering disciplines at Colorado State Universi-ty through a portfolio of engagement activities focused around undergraduate research experiences. Female RMSP participants exhibited substantially higher retention rates and grade point averages relative to other female engineering students at CSU. To better understand the impact of the RMSP, and its effectiveness among female engi-neering students, researchers focused on whether, and how, experiences and percep-tions differ between male and female students in engineering programs. That is, how do male and female students differ, if at all, in their subjective perception of life as an engineering major at CSU? A survey was developed measuring resilience, self-efficacy, motivation, social support, academic support, and perceived sexism. Data was obtained from 144 first-year engineering students at CSU. Results indicated that social support from extracurricular activities is particularly important among female students. This points to an increasing need for programs like the RMSP to create social networks among students and faculty, link students to the broader impacts of their work, and ultimately improve the undergraduate experience of under-represented groups in STEM programs.

Keywords


Rocky Mountain Scholars Program; STEM Education; Gender Differences; Social Support

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International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP) – eISSN: 2192-4880
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