AWISE (AWE in Student Environments) extends the AWE mission to the engineering classroom. This 3-year project investigates research issues pertinent to the retention of undergraduate women engineering students through gender comparative studies of classroom climate in three diverse departments at Penn State
This research project is addressing the following research questions:

  • How frequently do certain types of classroom activities occur?
    • Team or collaborative projects, Student to student interactions in non-formal teams or lab work, Student to faculty interactions.
  • How do students participate in these activities/ interactions in engineering classrooms and laboratories? (e.g. who leads, who asks questions)
  • How do students perceive these activities? (e.g. productive, beneficial, frustrating)
  • Are there differences (and what are they) between
    • men and women?
    • ethnic minority and majority students?
  • How do faculty perceptions of classroom activities compare to student perceptions?

We have developed student and faculty climate instruments with high reliability and measurable subscales.
To date we have collected over 2,000 student responses and have begun our data analysis.
A paper reporting on our preliminary results will be presented at ASEE 2008. See our research page for details.

What’s next?

  • Throughout 2008 and 2009 we will continue our data analysis, and dissemination of results.
  • We will also collect qualitative interview data to enhance our understanding of our qualitative results.
  • We will publish our survey instruments and solicit research partners who are interested in running multi-institution studies using this paradigm.

Marra, R., Bogue, B, Shen, D. (2008). Engineering Classroom Environments: Examining Differences by Gender and Departments. In proceedings of American Society for Engineering Education (, 22 - 24 June, Pittsburgh, PA.



Developed by The Pennsylvania State University and University of Missouri
Funded by The National Science Foundation (HRD 0120642 and HRD 0607081)