June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Educational Research and Methods
12.777.1 - 12.777.7
Gender Differences in Student Academic Performance and Attitudes in an Introductory Engineering Course
This paper examines the gender differences in student academic performance and attitudes toward their education and themselves in an introductory engineering course. Student academic performance was evaluated by comparing course work scores between the two genders using assignments, projects, exams and class participation. The students’ perceptions of the course with respect to course outcomes were measured by a survey at the end of the semester. The survey was designed to measure student perceptions about themselves and their skills in several areas such as problem solving, computer usage, design process, teamwork, and communication. The survey was also intended to assess whether or not the course objectives had been achieved and to determine if students have increased their skills in the aforementioned areas.
Analysis of the academic performance and attitude of 52 male students and 49 female students enrolled in an introduction to engineering course taught by the same instructor was carried out in four semesters. The results showed that there were no significant difference between mean scores in the academic performance of the genders in the course, and this was evident in the coursework and examination performance analysis. Average marks scored by students of either gender were almost equal. The results also indicated that academic performance in the course was affected by several factors such as student ability, motivation, the quality of secondary education obtained. The female students had a slightly higher overall course grade average than men and outperformed the male students on all class assignments except the final design project.
The attitude survey showed that men reported higher gains than women on the technical skills, including confidence on engineering knowledge as a career and problem-solving skills while women indicated higher gains in teamwork and design skills. Female students were able to learn the material as effectively as the male students.
Gender differences may exist in many different areas of education; from performance to attitudes, from classroom activities and course enrollments to perceptions about careers. There is increasing evidence that females are outperforming males in secondary education across a range of subjects. Several studies have been undertaken examining the impact of gender on undergraduate engineering performance, ranging from early year performance to that of later years, with conflicting results [1 – 10]. Some of the literature suggests that gender differences are dependent on the type of assessment utilized, reporting that females tend to perform better than males in coursework. For many years, educators have been concerned about differences in the enrollments and achievements of genders in engineering. Academic performance is affected by many factors such as motivation, student ability, the quality of secondary education received. Grades, after all, depend not only on how much students know but also on conformity to institutional demands, such as whether students follow the teacher's directions and turn in
Orabi, I. (2007, June), Gender Differences In Student Academic Performance And Attitudes Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1860
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