Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mohammadi-Aragh, M. Jean

Committee Member

Strawderman, Lesley

Committee Member

Simpson Hendrix, C. LaShan

Committee Member

Karami, Sareh

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Engineering Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


If a group of engineering deans were asked whether students at their institutions were successful and why, what information might they immediately or subconsciously use to measure or gauge the engineering students’ success? If only academic performance outcomes like GPA, individual course grades, or graduation rate race to their minds, then their rationale aligns with the majority of researchers. My research seeks to shift the mindset that frames engineering student success mainly within the boundaries of academic performance measures. By measuring students’ perceived autonomy, competence, social integration and relatedness within their programs, and aspirations after graduation, one can more accurately judge whether engineering students are achieving holistic student success. By utilizing surveys and exit interviews for freshmen Summer Bridge Program (SBP) participants, interviewing continuing and past SBP participants, and surveying engineering seniors, this research gathered more in-depth information on students’ experiences. In turn, one can better understand how the structures of engineering summer and undergraduate programs either contribute to or detract from student success and motivation. Results from SBP freshmen indicated that community building, structured studying, real-world experiences, residential life, and mentorship were perceived as valuable components by the students. Also, a perceived difficulty gap, based on students’ prior engineering experience(s), was uncovered. For continuing SBP students, there was an emphasis on Black community, leadership, and discourse when moving from SBP to larger departments. Lastly, within the seniors, we found that students tend to choose engineering careers regardless of their undergraduate experiences. This information can be used in practice for enhancing programmatic planning and design as well as potentially developing novel program components that contribute to students becoming more self-determined, motivated engineers. It is my hope that one day in the near future, engineering education faculty, administrators, and leaders will cultivate and measure success based on a more comprehensive assessment of lived experiences and better recognize how their decisions regarding programmatic structures impact students’ success and motivation.