Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Year of Publication


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies, Measurement, & Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly Bradley

Second Advisor

Dr. Janet Lumpp


The goal of this research study was to understand the impact first-year engineering programs have on undergraduate student persistence in engineering. First-year engineering programs feature a uniform first year curriculum for undergraduate engineering students and are designed to strengthen retention and increase graduation rates. This study sought to understand which factors present in first-year engineering programs influence student persistence in engineering. This study took place in the local context and examined the experience of engineering undergraduate students enrolled in a first-year engineering (FYEng) program at a state-level flagship land grant research institution in the southern region of the United States, Bluegrass University (BU). With the goal to understand which factors present in the BU-FYEng program influence student persistence in engineering, a confidential survey was utilized to gather information about student experiences and was administered to engineering students in early 2019. Students provided both quantitative and qualitative survey responses which were analyzed to understand student perceptions of the benefits of the BU-FYEng program, as well as the factors that contributed to their continued persistence in an undergraduate engineering major. The theoretical foundations of this study are rooted in Tinto’s Theory of Student Departure (1975) and Astin’s Theory of Student Involvement (1994). Adapted from Reason’s (2009) Comprehensive Model of Influences on Student Learning and Persistence, Hayden’s (2017) Comprehensive Model of Influences on Student Persistence in Engineering During the First Year of College was used to guide study design. Together, these theoretical frameworks and models underscore the importance of student involvement with both the academic and social aspects of college during the first year, both of which are key design features of the BU-FYEng program.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)