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Correlation Between Engineering Students' Performance in Mathematics and Academic Success

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 1

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.410.1 - 26.410.21



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Paper Authors


Gunter Bischof University of Applied Sciences Joanneum, Graz

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Throughout his career, Dr. Guenter Bischof has combined his interest in science, engineering and education. He studied physics at the University of Vienna, Austria, and acquired industry experience as development engineer at Siemens Corporation. Currently he is a faculty member at Joanneum University of Applied Sciences and teaches Engineering Mathematics and Fluid Mechanics. His research interests focus on vehicle dynamics, materials physics, and on engineering education.

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Andreas Zwölfer University of Applied Sciences Joanneum, Graz

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Andreas Zwölfer is currently studying Automotive Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Joanneum Graz. Prior to this he gained some work experience as a technician, also in the automotive sector. On completion of his studies, he intends to pursue a career in research.

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Domagoj Rubeša University of Applied Sciences Joanneum, Graz

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Domagoj Rubeša teaches Engineering Mechanics and Mechanics of Materials at the University of Applied Sciences Joanneum in Graz (Austria). He graduated as naval architect from the Faculty of Engineering in Rijeka (Croatia) and received his MSc degree from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and his PhD from the University of Leoben (Austria). He has industrial experience in a Croatian shipyard and in the R&D dept. of an Austrian supplier of racing cars' motor and drivetrain components. He also was a research fellow at the University of Leoben in the field of engineering ceramics. His interests include mechanical behavior of materials and in particular fracture and damage mechanics and fatigue, as well as engineering education.

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Correlation between engineering students’ performance in mathematics and academicsuccessIt is generally believed that the performance of engineering students in their undergraduatestudy is dependent on their mathematics performance, but there is only little data availablethat substantiates that presumption. This study aims at shedding some light on thisperceived dependency by comparing examination results in mathematics with those of thecore engineering subjects over a period of more than ten years.To identify the relationship between the students’ individual mathematical proficiency andtheir performance in applied engineering subjects, the examination performance of studentsin second and third semester mathematics courses have been correlated with theircorresponding performances in second and third semester mechanics and other mechanicalengineering subjects. The results show that there is a strong correlation between themathematics and mechanics grades; a correlation between mathematics and otherengineering core subjects also exists but is, in general, less distinct.In addition, the dropout rate for students enrolled in the classes from 2002 until 2009 hasbeen compared with their performance on an anonymous pre-course diagnostic test ofmathematical skills, which has been taking place each year in the first week of study. Priorstudies on the relationships between students’ university entry scores and theirperformance in terms of grade point averages have shown that the expected correlationseither do not exist or are too weak to base educational interventions on. A comparison ofpre-college mathematics skills with degree program drop-out rates, on the other hand,shows a clear trend that below-average high school mathematics education entails anelevated risk of failure.

Bischof, G., & Zwölfer, A., & Rubeša, D. (2015, June), Correlation Between Engineering Students' Performance in Mathematics and Academic Success Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23749

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