Understanding the relationship between living-learning communities and self-efficacy of women in engineering

Elaine Zundl, Laura Stiltz, Helen M. Buettner

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Rutgers University's Douglass Residential College and School of Engineering developed a partnership to provide first-year women in engineering the opportunity to live together and study engineering through the Douglass Engineering Living-Learning Community (DELLC). This high-impact program, which provides first-year women enrolled in engineering a residential environment as well as intentional peer and faculty interaction to promote their success in the field of engineering, has exceeded expectations in retaining undergraduate women from the first to third year in engineering. Aspects of this community include students residing together on a floor of the co-educational hall dedicated to first-year students in engineering, access to a Douglass Peer Academic Leader (PAL) in-residence, support from a female engineering graduate student mentor, enrollment in the Douglass first-year course Knowledge and Power: Issues in Women's Leadership, and interaction with faculty from all engineering disciplines during their linked course Introduction to Engineering which is taught by a full-time faculty member. Since the inception of the Douglass Engineering Living-Learning Community in 2012, 42 first-year women have participated and completed the program. Of those women, 38 have successfully stayed in an engineering curriculum (90% retention rate), and 29 have continued to live together in another residence hall. To assess the effectiveness of this program on the predictors of retention, all students participating were asked to complete the Longitudinal Assessment of Engineering Self-Efficacy (LAESE) developed by The Pennsylvania State University and University of Missouri. This instrument measures several outcomes related to retention and is widely used to better understand students' feelings towards engineering. Focus groups were also used to generate feedback about specific elements of the LLC program. We have found that our first two cohorts of female engineering students, currently in their second and third years, express significantly higher levels of career expectations, self-efficacy, feelings of inclusion and coping towards engineering than when they first entered.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Volume122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for Society
Issue number122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for...
StatePublished - 2015
Event2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Seattle, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2015Jun 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering

Cite this