Please enter verification code
A Study of Internships and Conferences on Retention and Graduation of Undergraduate Students
Higher Education Research
Volume 5, Issue 5, October 2020, Pages: 199-208
Received: Sep. 24, 2020; Accepted: Oct. 12, 2020; Published: Oct. 21, 2020
Views 69      Downloads 28
Tariq Khraishi, Mechanical Engineering Department, School of Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Kristine Denman, New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center, Institute for Social Research, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Elsa Castillo, Engineering Student Success (ESS) Center, School of Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Jenna Dole, New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center, Institute for Social Research, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Article Tools
Follow on us
The issue of retention and graduation of STEM college students is an important one in the United States, which the federal government, and its agencies, have focused on addressing for many years. In this paper, the authors discuss the experiences of a National Science Foundation STEP (STEM Talent Expansion Program) award to the School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico (UNM). The objective of this project is in-line with the national goal of improving retention and graduation rates of STEM students (specifically engineering and computer science students). The setup of this STEP project is unique in the sense that it focuses its efforts and activity funding on internships and professional conference participation trips for early career engineering and computer science students. In addition to a background on the national STEP Program, the paper discusses the constructive elements of this project and the data that was collected to measure its impact. The methods of this research involved data collection and analysis, surveys, bivariate descriptive statistics with statistical significance, and multivariate logistic regression analysis. The findings supported the original hypothesis of this multi-year study concerning the anticipated positive effect internships and conference participations can have on the graduation and retention of engineering undergraduate students. Therefore, it is concluded that such activities be explored at other higher education institutions in order to improve their retention and graduation numbers.
Career Development, Computer Science, Engineering, Internships, Mentoring, STEM, STEP, Retention, Undergraduates
To cite this article
Tariq Khraishi, Kristine Denman, Elsa Castillo, Jenna Dole, A Study of Internships and Conferences on Retention and Graduation of Undergraduate Students, Higher Education Research. Vol. 5, No. 5, 2020, pp. 199-208. doi: 10.11648/j.her.20200505.15
Copyright © 2020 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
National Science Foundation, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,” 2012. [Online]. Available:, Table 2-9.
M. Meyer, “Persistence of Engineering Undergraduates at a Public Research University,” 2015. [Online]. All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 4261. Available:
S. M. McKenzie, “Factors in engineering educational persistence: the correlation between identity and self-efficacy,” 2016. [Online]. Available:
D. A. Major, S. D. Burleson, X. Hu, and K. J. Shryock, “Board 141: Engineering Identity as a Predictor of Undergraduate Students' Persistence in Engineering,” 2019. [Online]. Psychology Faculty Publications. 98. Available:
M. Meyer and S. Marx, “Engineering dropouts: A qualitative examinations of why undergraduates leave engineering,” J. of Engin. Edu, vol. 103, no. 4, pp. 525-548, Oct. 2014.
V. Tinto, “Research and practice of student retention: What next?,” J. of Col. Stud. Retent: Research, Theor., and Prac., vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-19, May 2006.
L. E. Bernold and J. E. Spurlin, and C. M. Anson, “Understanding our students: A longitudinal-study of success and failure in engineering with implications for increased retention,” J. of Engin. Edu., vol. 96, no. 3, pp. 263-274, Jul. 2007.
C. Moller-Wong, M. C. Shelly II, and L. H. Ebbers, “Policy goals for educational administration and undergraduate retention: Toward a cohort model for policy and planning,” Pol. Stud. Rev., vol. 16, no. 3-4, pp. 243-277, Sep. 1999.
L. K. Lau “Institutional factors affecting student retention,” Edu., vol. 124, no. 1, pp. 126-136, Sep. 2003.
S. E. Walden and C. Foor, “What’s to keep you from dropping out?’ Student immigration into and within engineering,” J. of Engin. Edu., vol. 97, no. 2, pp. 191-205, April, 2008.
J. A. Raelin, M. B. Bailey, J. Hamann, L. K. Pendleton, R. Reisberg, and D. L. Whitman, “The gendered effect of cooperative education, contextual support, and self-efficacy on undergraduate retention,” J. of Engin. Edu., vol. 103, no. 4, pp. 599-624, Oct. 2014.
R. M. Marra and B. Bogue, “Women engineering students’ self efficacy-A longitudinal multi-institution study,” presented at the WEPAN Conf., Pittsburgh, PA, 2006.
E. Cech, B. Rubineau, S. Silbey, and C. Seron, “Professional role confidence and gendered persistence in engineering,” Amer. Soc. Rev., vol. 76, no. 5, pp. 641-666, Sep. 2011.
C. M. Vogt, “Faculty as a critical juncture in student retention and performance in engineering programs,” J. of Engin. Edu., vol. 97, no. 1, pp. 27-36, Jan. 2008.
F. Dehing, W. Jochems, and L. Baartman, “Development of an engineering identity in the engineering curriculum in Dutch higher education: An exploratory study from the teaching staff perspective,” Euro. J. of Engin, Edu., vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 1-10, Mar. 2013.
V. Tinto, Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition (2nd Edition). Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
C. T. Amelink, “Overview: Mentoring and women in engineering,” SWE-AWE CASEE Overviews (2008).
Z. S. Wilson, L. Holmes, K. deGravelles, M. R. Sylvain, L. Batiste, M. Johnson, S. Y. McGuire, S. S. Pang, and I. M. Wamer, “Hierarchical mentoring: A transformative strategy for improving diversity and retention in undergraduate STEM disciplines,” J. of Sci. Edu. Tech., vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 148-156, Apr. 2011.
S. J. Santos and E. T. Reigadas, “Understanding the student-faculty mentoring process: Its effects on at-risk university students,” J. of College Stud. Retent., vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 337-357, Nov. 2004.
P. L. Linn, A. Howard, E. Miller, Handbook for Research in Cooperative Education and Internships. Routledge, 2004.
W. Tyson, “Negative impact of employment on engineering student time management, time to degree, and retention: Faculty administrator, and staff perspectives,” J. of College Stud. Retention: Research, Theory, and Prac., vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 479-498, Feb. 2012.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186