June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.1061.1 - 13.1061.24
Same courses, different outcomes? Variations in Confidence, Experience, and Preparation in Engineering Design Abstract
There is evidence in the literature that women have lower confidence in their skills and knowledge than men, particularly in areas considered crucial for engineering, like math and science. This difference has been linked to gender gaps in engineering enrollment and persistence. Our study of engineering students extends research on gender differences by examining how confidence with design interacts with academic preparation and the frequency of design experiences in engineering coursework. We also compare patterns of gender differences within the racial/ethnic majority and minority groups. Our findings reaffirm prior research on the gender gap in engineering students’ academic confidence, where men tend to report higher levels of confidence. In particular, the analysis showed that the gender differences in confidence and perceived academic preparation to engage in design are primarily accounted for by the gender gap within the racial/ethnic majority group, while these differences were not as strongly expressed among underrepresented minorities. We also saw differences in how well women and men think their courses are preparing them to engage in these design activities. The study contributes new insights by examining the link between design confidence and course experience, as well as the relevance of other factors.
Despite years of research and intervention, women and some racial/ethnic minority students continue to be underrepresented in engineering . For instance, women earned less than one fifth of the Bachelor’s degrees in engineering and engineering technologies granted in the U.S. in 2004 . While underrepresented minority (URM) students are closing the gap between their participation and that of their majority counterparts, women’s enrollment in engineering education remains the same as it was about a decade years ago . URM success in engineering education has been correlated with improved academic preparation for college, financial assistance, and recruiting and programmatic interventions in higher education. While some institutions have excelled at recruiting and retaining women and URM students though preparatory and programmatic interventions [4-6], women overall continue to lag behind men in choosing and continuing with engineering education, despite there being no differences in ability or engagement [2, 7].
One reason for the gender and URM gaps that has been explored by researchers is a gap in self- confidence. Self-confidence is an affective construct referring to the strength of belief in one’s abilities. Previous research indicates that self-confidence plays an important role in gendered academic experiences in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields [8-10]. Self-confidence in math and science has been found to be positively associated with the likelihood of entry into science and engineering majors in postsecondary education, and persisting in science and engineering majors later in college [11-15].
While higher self-confidence in one’s abilities in a given discipline has been associated with enhanced performance and persistence in the field, research has uncovered that gender and
Morozov, A., & Kilgore, D., & Yasuhara, K., & Atman, C. (2008, June), Same Courses, Different Outcomes? Variations In Confidence, Experience, And Preparation In Engineering Design Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3486
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