June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Educational Research and Methods
12.387.1 - 12.387.11
Competition, Confidence, and Challenges in the Engineering Classroom: American and International Students Speak Out
The need to examine and compare the pre-college preparation provided by the International and American education systems led to the motivation for the study described in this paper. This study is part of a large, longitudinal study designed to understand how students become engineers by examining their experiences from their freshman year through their senior year. This part of the study focuses only on the freshman year experience of five of these students. Using multiple methods of data collection (i.e. ethnographic interviews, surveys, and academic transcripts), we observed differences in the manner in which American and International students speak of competition in the classroom, their confidence, and the challenges they face in pursuing an engineering degree. We conducted an in-depth study of five students from a larger pool of sixteen students in order to feature the students’ voice, an often minimized and underutilized resource.
Our study revealed that in their first year at Oliver University, American engineering students began to experience difficulty particularly in the areas of science and mathematics, whereas the international engineering students viewed the same course material as merely a review of information previously learned. The American students were left asking, “Why are they so smart and knowledgeable?” Both survey and ethnographic data indicate a difference between these two student groups in four broad areas: high school preparation, first year GPA, confidence level, and willingness to persist in an engineering major. Not only does national data show that Americans are scoring at lower levels in mathematics and science, but also American and international students are observing and reporting this phenomena as well.
Williams, D., & Fleming, L., & Jones, M., & Griffin, A. (2007, June), Competition, Confidence And Challenges In The Engineering Classroom: American And International Students Speak Out Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2144
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