Faculty support and student engagement in undergraduate engineering

Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning / May 2020

This study investigated how behavioral and emotional forms of engagement are associated with faculty support and student-faculty interactions among engineering students. Quantitative research methods were used to analyze survey data from 781 undergraduates in seven large undergraduate engineering courses. Linear hierarchical regression models were used to evaluate the relationships between demographics (gender, race/ethnicity, family education, US status and transfer status) and student engagement and between faculty behaviors and engagement. Faculty support was consistently, significantly and positively linked to all forms of student engagement, while student-faculty interactions were significantly and positively linked to effort and positive emotional engagement and negatively linked to attention and (an absence of) negative emotional engagement. Gender, race/ethnicity, international student status and transfer status significantly predicted at least one form of engagement. Although this was a single institution study and cross-sectional, the findings suggest that faculty support and student-faculty interactions, while important for engagement, have different effects on different types of students. Faculty and teacher professional development efforts should raise awareness of these differences in order to enhance diversity and inclusion in engineering courses and curricula at all levels.