Wao, H., Lee, R., & Borman, K. (2010). Climate for retention to graduation: A mixed methods investigation of student perceptions of engineering departments and programs. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 16(4), 293-317.
- The study's objective was to determine what characteristics of a college department (referred to as the climate) were conducive to retaining women and underrepresented minorities enrolled in an engineering program through graduation. The study took place at four engineering programs in Florida universities during the 2007–2008 academic year.
- The authors administered a Likert scale survey to a convenience sample of undergraduate students enrolled in engineering programs that measured nine aspects of the department’s climate (for example, faculty involvement or support, diversity, and student integration with department) as well as the student’s intent to leave the program. The authors then used regression analysis to determine which of the nine aspects of climate predicted a student’s intent to leave the program. In-person interviews and six focus groups supplemented survey findings.
- The study found that the aspects of college department climate predictive of a student’s intent to leave the program were institutional support (or the level of support and services provided by the institution to help students succeed), social and academic fit (or how well the student felt he or she was a part of the department), and personal agency and peer support (or one’s own involvement in the learning process and a peer atmosphere that encouraged success). There were no statistically significant differences in findings by gender or ethnicity, although interview and focus group data point toward complexities in how women and minorities experienced climate, suggesting that they might be more inclined than majority groups to rely on social support and fit than institutional support.