Race, Gender, and Measures of Success in Engineering Education<br />Russell A. LongPurdue University<br />		Matthew W. Ohl...
Background<br />This paper is one of a series of works using a large multi-institution dataset to fuel critical conversati...
Design/Method<br />	The eight-semester persistence and six-year graduation rate are compared for various race-gender popul...
Nine MIDFIELD Institutions<br />6 of the 50 largest U.S. undergraduate engineering programs.<br />1/12 of all U.S. enginee...
Eight-Semester Persistence<br />    The number or percentage of students matriculating in any engineering discipline who a...
Six-Year Graduation<br />    The number or percentage of students matriculating in any engineering discipline who have gra...
Yield<br />    The number of students graduating within six chronological years as a percentage of those students who pers...
At first, eight-semester persistence in engineering appears  to be a consistent predictor of six-year graduation.<br />
Female and male populations aggregated by race with similar graduation rates may have widely varying experiences. Numbers ...
Black students only. Numbers represent institutions, filled circles are female populations.<br />
Systematic Majority Measurement Bias <br />     The characteristic relationship between eight-semester persistence and six...
Conclusions<br />      At all institutions, women who persist to the eighth semester are more likely to graduate than men ...
Conclusions<br />      Eight semester persistence metrics that do not disaggregate by race conflate data that heavily over...
Acknowledgements<br />	This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation Grant No. REC-0337629 (...
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Race, Gender, and Institutional Differences in Engineering Persistence. By Matthew Ohland, Catherine Brawner, Michelle Camacho, Richard Layton, Russell Long, Susan Lord and Mara Wasburn.

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Using whole-population student records data from multiple institutions for cohorts matriculating in engineering from 1988-1998 and graduating through 2005, the extent to which institutional variation exceeds variation by gender and race discovered in earlier work is explored graphically and using multiple measures of persistence. A powerful new graph design illustrates the intersectionality of race and gender, the importance of institutional variation, and the diversity of pathways that can lead to the same overall rate of persistence. The results make it clear that some underrepresented racial groups can succeed while others do not succeed at the same institution, emphasizing the importance not only of disaggregating race and gender, but of disaggregating various races rather than considering underrepresented minorities as if they were a homogeneous group.

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  • Hello. I’m Russell Long. Dr. Mara Wasburn is in the audience. We are both available to answer any questions that you might have about this paper.Although conventional wisdom and some studies contend that women persist in engineering majors at lower rates than do men, numerous other studies indicate that women who matriculate directly into engineering majors persist at similar rates to their male counterparts. In considering this literature, it is important to note that, depending upon the outcome metrics being used, different conclusions can be reached regarding cohorts of students who might otherwise appear to be similar.
  • This paper is one of a series of works using a large multi-institution dataset to fuel critical conversations in engineering education. Earlier works have revealed that Women and men who matriculate in engineering are more likely to persist in engineering than students in other majors ; For all races except Native American, women who matriculate in engineering persist to the eighth semester at rates comparable to those of men;The metric used to measure success matters. ;Institutional variation in persistence, as measured by either eight-semester persistence or six-year graduation, is much greater than the variation by gender.
  • This paper compares the eight-semester persistence and six-year graduation rate for various race-gender populations using MIDFIELD.MIDFIELD is a large longitudinal dataset that now contains record data on over one million individual students at 12 institutions. Only the nine original MIDFIELD institutions were used for this study.We examined records for 75,686 first-time-in-college students matriculating in engineering from 1988 through 1998, excluding international students and also excluding students who self-identified as a race other than Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, or White. The nine MIDFIELD schools are all public institutions in the southeastern United States, yet their size and diversity help make the results generalizable. These partner institutions have larger overall enrollment and engineering programs than average when compared to the more than 300 colleges in the U.S. with engineering programs.
  • The nine MIDFIELD institutions used for this study include six of the 50 largest U.S. engineering programs in terms of undergraduate enrollment, resulting in a population that includes 1/12 of all engineering graduates of U.S. engineering programs. MIDFIELD’s 1988-1998 cohorts include 19,000 female engineering students, or 21.5 percent of students, which aligns with national averages of 20 percent from 1999-2003 and 22 percent in 2005. African-American students are significantly overrepresented in the MIDFIELD dataset—partner schools graduate 1/5 of all US African-American engineering B.S. degree recipients each year, because the MIDFIELD participants include four of the top five producers of African-American engineering graduates, including two HBCUs. The graduation percentage of Hispanics (regardless of gender) is representative of other U.S. programs. Hispanic students are particularly concentrated at two institutions in the database, Georgia Tech and the University of Florida. Note that the latter is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Together they account for 65 percent of the Hispanic population in our database. All other ethnic populations are representative of a national sample.
  • To study the effect of the choice of metric to define success, our study includes two separate metrics:Eight-semester persistence is the number or percentage of students matriculating in any engineering discipline who are still enrolled in an engineering discipline in their eighth semester (although not necessarily in the engineering discipline in which they originally matriculated). Notably, only enrolled semesters are counted, so the number of semesters does not precisely map to the chronology of the student’s enrollment.
  • Six-year graduation is the number or percentage of students matriculating in any engineering discipline who have graduated in any engineering discipline within six chronological years (again, not necessarily from the engineering discipline in which they matriculated). In this case, a student matriculating in engineering during fall 1998 must have graduated from engineering in the summer of 2004 or sooner to be counted.
  • Because we are explicitly interested in how eight-semester persistence relates to graduation, we have created a third variable that relates the two.Yield is the number of students graduating within six chronological years as a percentage of those students who persist to eight semesters. Here, we neglect the small confusion introduced by students who persist to eight semesters, but take longer than six years to do so.The product of the yield and the eight-semester persistence is the six-year graduation rate.
  • Our preliminary exploration of the suitability of the use of eight-semester persistence in our dataset is shown in this figure.Each data point in this figure represents all the students of a particular gender matriculating in engineering at a particular institution. Log-scale axes were used to ensure that the behavior of smaller populations is not obscured. For women, the slope of the regression line is 0.93, indicating that on average approximately 93 percent of women persisting to the eighth semester in engineering continue on to graduate from engineering within six years (likely, but not necessarily, from the same engineering discipline). The high R2 indicates that this persistence to graduation from the eighth semester is consistent for females at various institutions. Men are slightly less likely to graduate in six years after persisting to the eighth semester (89 percent).The log scale used has the side effect that departures from the line are greater than they appear.
  • This figure was developed to accentuate population differences compared to the treatment in the previous figure.This graph uses population percentages to display large and small populations on the same scale. By plotting the yield on the ordinate we can distinguish the experience of populations with the same overall graduation rate. The institutions are numbered in order of the six-year graduation rate for women at the group of institutions. Filled circles are female populations, unfilled are male populations.This figure has a considerable amount of scatter, showing that institutional differences outweigh gender differences.Populations to the lower right are lingering in engineering programs with less likelihood of graduation, whereas populations to the upper left leave engineering earlier. Presumably, students in the latter scenario leave engineering while they still have more options, but it is possible that some, who could have succeeded, might have been forced out of engineering. Women are less likely to persist to the eighth semester at five of the nine institutions (3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) than other institutions with similar six-year graduation rates. For example, at Institutions 6 and 7, women and men have virtually identical graduation rates but the yield for women is higher in both cases, Women at Institutions 1, 2, 8, and 9 persist to the eighth semester at higher rates than men and have higher six-year graduation rates than men. At Institutions 2, 8, and 9, the data points representing female and male populations are farther apart with women above and to the right, meaning that women at those institutions are more likely than men to graduate in six years.It is particularly interesting to compare Institutions 8 and 9. The six-year graduation rates of females and males at the two institutions are nearly equal. Yet, in the cases of both gendered sub-populations, Institution 8 exhibits a qualitatively different experience—more students persist to the eighth semester but do not graduate within six years. Because graduation rates increase in contours toward the upper right of the graph, contour lines were added to make it easier to compare the graduation rates of two populations directly using this figure. Of students who persist to eight semesters, women are from 1 percent to 13 percent more likely than men to graduate within six years.
  • This table shows engineering matriculants who persisted to the eighth semester and graduated in six years, disaggregated by race and gender, aggregated by institution. The table is ordered by decreasing six-year graduation rate.
  • 3 clusters – 1&amp;2, 3,4&amp;7, and 5,6,8&amp;9This highlights the need for careful selection of metrics. Using eight-semester persistence, Institutions 6 would appear to be similar to Institutions 4, but the latter institution has a higher six-year graduation rate for the same eight-semester persistence.Black female students persist consistently at higher rates than Black males, with Black males persisting at higher rates than Black females only at Institutions 3 and 7, and at the same rate at Institution 6. As in the aggregated graph shown in Figure 2, none of the institutional lines crosses another, showing that institutional variation supersedes gender variation in the Black subpopulation. Overall, however, the persistence of Blacks exhibits much more variation than any other racial group. Earlier work has shown that ethnicity is not a predictor of persistence beyond what can be explained using other variables . While Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) contribute substantially to the number of Black engineering graduates, there is no significant indication that HBCUs have higher or lower rates of persistence. They seem to show the same variability as non-minority institutions. This finding is observed in the MIDFIELD dataset as well. MIDFIELD’s two HBCU institutions are in different clusters in Figure 4. In the MIDFIELD institutions, the average time-to-graduation is 4.8 years for Black females and 4.9 for Black males, which are typical for other populations.
  • The White populations at the MIDFIELD institutions show little variation in the rate of eight-semester persistence. There is less variation than in any of the non-Asian minority groups in general, and what is found is predominantly variability in yield rate after persisting to the eighth semester. The characteristic relationship between eight-semester persistence and six-year graduation is most strongly observed in Asians and Whites, leading to a bias in interpreting aggregated persistence data since these two populations together account for 82 percent of the total undergraduate engineering population in MIDFIELD and hence mask the performance of the underrepresented populations. We refer to this as a “systematic majority measurement bias” (SMMB). SMMB causes an underreporting of the variability of both metrics and an over-reporting of the correlation of eight-semester persistence and six-year graduation.
  • At all institutions, women who persist to the eighth semester are more likely to graduate than men who persist to the eighth semester. Using eight-semester persistence as a success metric can underreport the persistence of women to graduation. This is true for all aggregated populations of women and many racial subpopulations. While we have demonstrated that persistence varies by institution, within each institution it is clear that an eight semester metric belies six year graduation persistence.
  • Eight semester persistence metrics that do not disaggregate by race conflate data that heavily over-represents white males. These produce data that suggest men outpace their gendered counterparts at the eighth semester marker. Following these students to six year graduation, and disaggregating by race and gender, reveals that women in several racial/ethnic groups graduate at a higher rate. Ultimately, our work demonstrates that trajectories of persistence are non-linear, gendered, and racialized, and further that higher education has developed the way in which persistence is studied based on the behavior of the majority, specifically the White, male population.
  • Race, Gender, and Institutional Differences in Engineering Persistence. By Matthew Ohland, Catherine Brawner, Michelle Camacho, Richard Layton, Russell Long, Susan Lord and Mara Wasburn.

    1. 1. Race, Gender, and Measures of Success in Engineering Education<br />Russell A. LongPurdue University<br /> Matthew W. OhlandPurdue University<br /> Catherine E. BrawnerResearch Triangle Educational Consultants<br /> Michelle M. CamachoUniversity of San Diego<br /> Richard A. Layton Rose Hulman Institute of Technology<br /> Susan M. LordUniversity of San Diego<br /> Mara H. WasburnPurdue University<br />
    2. 2. Background<br />This paper is one of a series of works using a large multi-institution dataset to fuel critical conversations in engineering education. Earlier works have revealed that :<br />Women and men who matriculate in engineering are more likely to persist in engineering than students in other majors (Ohland et al., 2008); <br />For all races except Native American, women who matriculate in engineering persist to the eighth semester at rates comparable to those of men (Lord et al., 2009);<br />The metric used to measure success matters. While eight-semester persistence in engineering is a reasonable predictor of six-year graduation in engineering in the aggregate, institutional differences are noticeable and much greater than variation by gender (Ohland, Camacho, Layton, Lord, & Wasburn, 2009);<br />Institutional variation in persistence, as measured by either eight-semester persistence or six-year graduation, is much greater than the variation by gender (Ohland et al., 2009).<br />
    3. 3. Design/Method<br /> The eight-semester persistence and six-year graduation rate are compared for various race-gender populations using MIDFIELD.<br /> The Multi-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD). contains records for 75,686 first-time-in-college students matriculating in engineering from 1988 through 1998, excluding international students and also excluding students who self-identified as a race other than Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, or White (Long, 2008; Ohland et al., 2008). The MIDFIELD schools are all public institutions in the southeastern United States, yet their size and diversity help make the results generalizable.<br />
    4. 4. Nine MIDFIELD Institutions<br />6 of the 50 largest U.S. undergraduate engineering programs.<br />1/12 of all U.S. engineering undergraduate degrees.<br />1988-1998 cohorts include 19,000 (21.5%) female engineering students.<br />1/5 of all U.S. African-American engineering B.S. degree recipients each year.<br />Graduation percentage of Hispanics (regardless of gender) is representative of other U.S. programs. <br />All other ethnic populations are representative of a national sample.<br />
    5. 5. Eight-Semester Persistence<br /> The number or percentage of students matriculating in any engineering discipline who are still enrolled in an engineering discipline in their eighth semester (although not necessarily in the engineering discipline in which they originally matriculated). Notably, only enrolled semesters are counted, so the number of semesters does not precisely map to the chronology of the student’s enrollment.<br />
    6. 6. Six-Year Graduation<br /> The number or percentage of students matriculating in any engineering discipline who have graduated in any engineering discipline within six chronological years (again, not necessarily from the engineering discipline in which they matriculated). In this case, a student matriculating in engineering during fall 1998 must have graduated from engineering in the summer of 2004 or sooner to be counted.<br />
    7. 7. Yield<br /> The number of students graduating within six chronological years as a percentage of those students who persist to eight semesters. Here, we neglect the small confusion introduced by students who persist to eight semesters, but take longer than six years to do so.<br /> The product of the yield and the eight-semester persistence is the six-year graduation rate. <br />
    8. 8. At first, eight-semester persistence in engineering appears to be a consistent predictor of six-year graduation.<br />
    9. 9. Female and male populations aggregated by race with similar graduation rates may have widely varying experiences. Numbers represent institutions; filled circles are female populations. Note that institutional differences outweigh gender differences.<br />
    10. 10.
    11. 11. Black students only. Numbers represent institutions, filled circles are female populations.<br />
    12. 12. Systematic Majority Measurement Bias <br /> The characteristic relationship between eight-semester persistence and six-year graduation is most strongly observed in Asians and Whites, leading to a bias in interpreting aggregated persistence data since these two populations together account for 82 percent of the total undergraduate engineering population in MIDFIELD and hence mask the performance of the underrepresented populations. We refer to this as a “systematic majority measurement bias” (SMMB). SMMB causes an underreporting of the variability of both metrics and an over-reporting of the correlation of eight-semester persistence and six-year graduation.<br />
    13. 13. Conclusions<br /> At all institutions, women who persist to the eighth semester are more likely to graduate than men who persist to the eighth semester. <br /> Using eight-semester persistence as a success metric can underreport the persistence of women to graduation. This is true for all aggregated populations of women and many racial subpopulations. <br /> While we have demonstrated that persistence varies by institution, presumably because of institutional recruitment and retention practices, within each institution it is clear that an eight semester metric belies six year graduation persistence. <br />
    14. 14. Conclusions<br /> Eight semester persistence metrics that do not disaggregate by race conflate data that heavily over-represents white males. These produce data that suggest men outpace their gendered counterparts at the eighth semester marker. Following these students to six year graduation, and disaggregating by race and gender, reveals that women in several racial/ethnic groups graduate at a higher rate. <br /> Ultimately, our work demonstrates that trajectories of persistence are non-linear, gendered, and racialized, and further that higher education has developed the way in which persistence is studied based on the behavior of the majority, specifically the White, male population.<br />
    15. 15. Acknowledgements<br /> This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation Grant No. REC-0337629 (now DRL- 0729596) and EEC-0646441, funding the Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD, a collaboration of nine partner universities) and a collaborative NSF Gender in Science and Engineering Research Grant (0734085 & 0734062). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.<br />

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