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A Comparison Of Demographic Factors And Academic Performances Between Students Graduated In Engineering And Other Disciplines

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

International Collaborative Efforts in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.25.1 - 8.25.10



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Paper Authors

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Tim Anderson

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Rufus Carter

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Brian Thorndyke

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Guili Zhang

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2660

A Comparison of Demographic Factors and Academic Performances between Students Graduated in Engineering and Other Disciplines

Guili Zhang, Brian Thorndyke, Rufus Carter, Matthew Ohland, and Tim Anderson

Educational Psychology Department, University of Florida / Department of Physics, University of Florida / Educational Psychology Department, University of Florida / Department of General Engineering, Clemson University / Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida


In this study, demographics and academic performance measures of undergraduate engineering students were compared with science and non-science majors. This study crossed 9 institutions, spanned 13 years, and examined the pre-factors gender, citizenship, high school GPA, SAT math and verbal scores, as well as several indicators of success in college such as time to graduation, cumulative GPA, number of major changes, semesters to graduation, cumulative semester hours, and average hours/semester. Using multivariate statistical methods, we determined that engineering majors differed significantly from science and non-science majors on several variables.

I. Introduction

It seems intuitive that undergraduate engineering students, by virtue of admission and course requirements, should rank particularly high in mathematical and analytical skills when compared with the non-science majors. It also stands to reason that higher demands of the engineering curriculum might negatively impact certain measures of academic performance like GPA and time to graduation. These contentions have generally been supported by various quantitative studies 1,2. It is not clear, however, how engineers compare to non-engineers with regard to factors such as demographic background. Furthermore, to our knowledge, no studies have yet investigated these differences across two or more institutions, thus limiting findings to institution-dependent conclusions.

Several schools have tabulated pre-entrance academic data on arriving freshman. For example, the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) reported their admission variables by major area 1. The results from their 1998-2000 Factbook indicate that engineers had the highest SAT math score, as well as the second highest SAT verbal score, among all majors. In addition, engineers entered with an average high school GPA higher than all other majors, although the natural sciences and mathematics trailed closely.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Anderson, T., & Carter, R., & Thorndyke, B., & Ohland, M., & Zhang, G. (2003, June), A Comparison Of Demographic Factors And Academic Performances Between Students Graduated In Engineering And Other Disciplines Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11691

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