Academic achievement and retention patterns of minority students enrolled at the University of Houston, Cullen College of Engineering from 1974 to 1980

Date

1981

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Abstract

During the sixties and the early seventies federal affirmative programs resulted in an increase of minority students into predominately white institutions. A high failure or attrition rate among these students emphasized the need for programs to be developed to increase the success rate of this special population. One such program, the Program for Minority Engineering Students (PROMES) was initiated at the University of Houston, Cullen College of Engineering. This comprehensive program liasons with the local school system; and for college engineering students provides orientation, diagnostic testing, academic advising, tutoring, individual and group counseling, peer group support, financial aid and job placement. The primary purpose of this study was to develop a better understanding of how minorities, blacks and Hispanics, progress through the engineering program. It was hypothesized that: 1. SAT scores and level of involvement in PROMES would be the best predictor of success. 2. Success would be greater for PROMES as compared to non-PROMES minority students. 3. Level of success is related to level of involvement in PROMES. The records of 311 students were used (174 PROMES and 137 non-PROMES). Success was measured in terms of GPA, number of hours earned, number of probations, number of suspensions, number of withdrawals from courses, number of failures, and number of incompleted courses. The predictor or independent variables were: sex of student, race, high school quartile, MSAT, VSAT, TSAT and level of involvement in PROMES. Multiple regression and discriminant analyses were used to analyze the data. The analyses indicated the following results: 1. Sex was of little statistical significance in predicting success. 2. Hispanics have a significantly higher GPA and lower failure rate than blacks. 3. High school quartile rank was not statistically significant in predicting any of the success measures. 4. SAT scores contributed only marginally to the prediction of success. 5. The majority of the involvement indexes appear to be associated positively with success. 6. PROMES students were significantly more successful than non-PROMES students. It was concluded that involvement with PROMES increases the minority students' chances of success. Recommendations for future research and data collection included: (1) continued data collection and analyses of the PROMES students and program, (2) use of more predictive variables of success, (3) development of a booklet describing the functions and status of PROMES, and (4) investigations on follow-up information relative to dropouts.

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Keywords

Engineering, Study and teaching (Higher), Minorities in engineering

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