Major, J. C., Scheidt, M., Godwin, A., Perkins, H., Kim, S., Self, B., Chen, J., & Berger, E. (2023). Institutional characteristics and engineering student non-cognitive and affective (NCA) profiles. International Journal of Engineering Education, 39(3)., 668-684.

In our prior work, a cluster analysis (n = 2,339) identified four groups of engineering undergraduates’ non-cognitive and affective (NCA) factors from a list of 28 dimensions such as belongingness, engineering identity, self-control, and perceptions of faculty caring. We found clusters of students that generally contained favorable student success characteristics (high belonging, high engineering identity, high motivation, and others), as well as those that were characterized by less favorable characteristics for student success (low belonging, low perception of faculty caring, and others). Higher education institutions have varying missions and profiles, and they serve different student populations. We hypothesize that as institutional characteristics are related to specific NCA (institutional characteristics may affect belongingness, stress support, perceptions of faculty caring, or other constructs from our NCA-based clusters), they may also be related to cluster membership. To test our hypothesis, we merged our dataset with institutional data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), engineering program enrollment data from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Engineering Data Management System (EDMS), and financial data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The final data for this analysis consisted of n = 1,252 responses across 14 U.S. institutions. We used multinomial logistic regression to predict cluster membership as a function of both individual and institutional characteristics. We found that institutional characteristics correlate to cluster membership in important ways: students at large and/or and doctoral granting institutions have decreased odds of being in a generally positive cluster containing favorable student success characteristics, while enrollment at guaranteed tuition institutions increases these odds. These results elevate the role of institutional culture and its alignment to student characteristics as a key component of successful student outcomes. These results, when considered as a question of student-institution alignment, offer opportunities to rethink student academic and social support structures that encourage growth in specific NCA factors. In turn, this growth may support expanded engineering student success.

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