Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date




Conference Name

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, Florida, June 15-19, 2019


Improving graduation rates of students who have selected and been admitted to engineering majors is a pivotal strategy in supporting national initiatives to increase the number of engineering graduates. Research suggests that the degree to which a student is attached to or belongs to engineering as a discipline better explains persistence-related outcomes than lack of interest and ability. As a result, identity frameworks have proven useful for furthering the understanding of engineering persistence. In this paper, we examine the relationship between undergraduate students’ engineering identity and persistence as an engineering major.

As part of an ongoing NSF IUSE project, a concise five-item measure of engineering identity was developed and validated. That measure was administered to a large sample of engineering freshmen at a southwestern engineering school. Engineering identity was assessed twice, once prior to the beginning of fall semester when students had not yet taken an engineering course (Time 1) and once at the end of fall semester after completing introductory engineering courses (Time 2). Persistence as an engineering major was assessed prior to the beginning of the sophomore year (Time 3). Results showed that engineering identity measured at both Time 1 (r = .09) and Time 2 (r = .22) was significantly related to persistence as an engineering major at Time 3.

The paper describes the implications of these longitudinal findings, future data analyses, and the importance of engineering identity. Having a concise, validated measure of identity will be valuable for quick assessment of student engineering identity and gaining further understanding of the relationship between identity and persistence in engineering.


© American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Tampa, Florida, June 15-19, 2019.

Original Publication Citation

Major, D. A., Burleson, S. D., Hu, X., & Shryock, K. J. (2019). Board 141: Engineering identity as a predictor of undergraduate students' persistence in engineering. Paper presented at the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, Florida, June 15-19, 2019.


0000-0001-6680-6718 (Burleson)