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Assessing Gender Differences between Student Motivations for Studying Engineering

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 4B: Assessing Student Motivation and Student Success

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First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Anne Dudek Ronan P.E. New York University

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Anne Dudek Ronan, Ph.D., P.E., is an Industry Professor in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering NYU. Although her main area of interest is Water Resources Engineering, she teaches across the curriculum – from the freshman Introduction to Civil Engineering course to graduate classes in Groundwater Hydrology and Surface Water Pollution. She also advises PhD and Masters degree students and is faculty adviser for two student clubs. Previously, Anne was an Adjunct Professor at The Cooper Union and Assistant Professor at San Jose State University. She has won several teaching awards for her passion for undergraduate and graduate education.

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Jack Bringardner New York University Orcid 16x16

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Jack Bringardner is an Assistant Professor in the First-Year Engineering Program at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. He studied civil engineering and received his B.S. from the Ohio State University and his M.S and Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. His primary focus is developing curriculum and pedagogical techniques for engineering education, particularly in the Introduction to Engineering and Design course at NYU. He has a background in Transportation Engineering and is affiliated with the NYU Civil and Urban Engineering department.

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This research paper investigates what motivates students to major in engineering, and how the motives differ between men and women. It aims to address curriculum planning in first-year engineering programs to improve retention and diversity. Previous research has identified course practices – such as team-based projects – that have positively impacted engagement of women in engineering. Understanding the motivations for students to choose engineering can connect the reasons why certain curricular practices resonate with student desires. These reasons can be integrated into course projects. A literature review and analysis of essay responses were used to generate a series of motivations to investigate. A Likert scale survey relating these motivations to reasons that students chose engineering was conducted in first-year engineering courses. A scale of altruistic to individualistic motivating factors to major in engineering was evaluated for appropriateness to this discussion on differences between men and women. A statistically significant difference was found in a desire to help society, previous engineering experience, and career opportunities.

Ronan, A. D., & Bringardner, J. (2016, June), Assessing Gender Differences between Student Motivations for Studying Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26294

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