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Despite a rich body of research on factors contributing to attrition of women during the college, women continue to be underrepresented in the graduating classes of most traditional engineering disciplines. We present our Four-Domain Development Diagram (4DDD) in an attempt to enable a systems approach to managing all the factors that contribute to retention. This diagram makes explicit the connections between the learnerspsila response factors in the learning environment, including motivation, interest, and ultimately retention. Although we are only three years into our use of the diagramspsila relationships, we have seen a lower overall net attrition rate (male and female) from freshman year from ~50% to ~20%, seeing a net influx of female students, from numbers as low as 2 of 44 in the entering freshmen cohort to 6 out of 40 (now sophomores) in that same cohort. In this paper, we present the diagram, briefly introduce the theoretical underpinnings with preliminary quantitative and qualitative data.
Date of Conference: 22-25 Oct. 2008