With an increasing need for engineering people throughout the world, high educational dropout rates are becoming a serious problem. The field of dropout and retention often inquiries into why students leave. The focus in this article is the positive and institutional angle – what does it take for a higher education engineering program to retain engineering students? To investigate this overall research question of what actually works at a program level, an engineering program doing well regarding retention, is singled out, the relatively new Interaction Design (IxD) program, to explore the reasons why and compare with existing knowledge within the field. The question guiding this exploration is: What is it that the IxD program does well regarding retention? The case study applies an explanatory mixed methods approach based in a review of successful studies on retention. Qualitative data are used to design the questionnaire and to substantiate the quantitative results. The questionnaire was sent out to all students from 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th semester. Alongside this, we also interviewed staff. Aligning expectations with stakeholders outside and inside the university, an internal, progressive logic across the curricula of the entire program, a problem- and project based learning approach and extracurricular student groups across the semesters support both the academic and the social integration of the students. This piece of work draws forward the importance of alignment and the need for continuous expectation reconciliation between students and the university as a key issue in what works in retention beyond active group-based learning and as a continuous focus and activity on the part of the university.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1116-1129
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

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