Perceptions of the social and economic factors influencing engineering and applied science students' choice of degree program

Sundly, Amit (2018) Perceptions of the social and economic factors influencing engineering and applied science students' choice of degree program. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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A career in science or engineering is not among the top choices of Canadian students. Although there is no current imbalance in demand and supply of engineers and scientists in Canada, it is also true that the global need for these skills is currently at its peak with substantial future growth opportunities. With competition from emerging economies like India and China, it is essential for government, schools and universities, and other agencies in the Canadian education system to understand the factors influencing Canadian students’ participation in post-secondary degree in engineering. Review of the literature shows that there has been limited investigation of this phenomenon. Using a cross-sectional survey design, this study, set in the Newfoundland Labrador context, examines certain demographic, family, high school, societal, economic, and personal factors that play a role in students’ academic decisions to pursue an undergraduate engineering degree. The findings show that participation in undergraduate engineering programs at Memorial University is associated with student’s family background and gender. Students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and women are underrepresented in undergraduate engineering education in Newfoundland and Labrador. The results also reveal that engineering student represent their decisions to pursue engineering as influenced primarily by personal factors and only marginally by school-level factors. The study points to a number of implications for policy and practice. Among the policy actions that could increase the number of engineering students from underrepresented groups is reexamining and, where necessary substantially improving support programs for underrepresented populations – both at the secondary and post-secondary levels. At the school level, this might involve greater attention to engaging students in STEM-based experiential activities and programs, explicitly exposing students to information on careers in engineering and the applied sciences, and professional development for teachers and counselors. At the post-secondary level, financial support to students from underrepresented groups and continued research in the area of engineering education may increase participation in engineering and help create equitable educational opportunities in the field of engineering for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 13194
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 79-96).
Keywords: STEM education, engineering education, post-secondary decision-making, student perceptions
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: May 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Engineering -- Vocational guidance -- Economic aspects; Engineering -- Vocational guidance -- Social aspects; Science -- Vocational guidance -- Economic aspects; Science -- Vocational guidance -- Social aspects

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