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NSF Grant to Study Self-Efficacy and Retention of Female Undergraduate Engineering Students

Grant awarded to study how cooperative education and related on-the-job experiences affect female undergraduate engineering students.

Northeastern University (NU), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (VT), and the University of Wyoming (UW) will partner in a research study titled: Pathways to Work Self-Efficacy and Retention of Women in Undergraduate Engineering (hereinafter referred to as the Pathways Project). The study is designed to investigate the hypothesis that women’s participation in formal undergraduate engineering programs that provide work experiences while enrolled (e.g., cooperative education or internships) leads to enhanced self-efficacy and an increased likelihood of retention through graduation. Although all four schools offer cooperative education (co-op) or internship programs, NU and RIT require them. This project will isolate the factors that contribute most to the development of positive self-efficacy beliefs and, ultimately, to the retention of women in undergraduate engineering programs. 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of $7.2 billion (FY 2014), they are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.