The effects of gender on the success of a cohort of engineering students

Burton, Lorelle J. and Dowling, David G. (2010) The effects of gender on the success of a cohort of engineering students. In: Engineering Education Conference (EE 2010): Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers , 6-8 Jul 2010, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

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The gender imbalance in the Australian engineering profession is significant and many engineering educators seek to redress this imbalance. This paper considers the implications of gender on the academic success of male and female students in engineering and spatial science programs.
In 2004 the authors began a longitudinal study to identify the key predictors of academic success for a sample of 131 (18 females) on-campus students enrolled in first-year engineering and spatial science programs at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). Earlier papers reported on the individual differences factors that influenced academic success, showing that previous education achievement (tertiary entrance score) was the key factor in predicting academic success for engineering students during their first year of study (Burton and Dowling, 2005; Dowling and Burton, 2005; Burton, Taylor, Dowling and Lawrence 2009). This paper explores the nature of the relationships between cognitive abilities (spatial and verbal skills), personality, and academic success, for male and female students while they were enrolled in their program.
Analysis of the data showed that academic success in first year proved to be a significant predictor of success for the remaining years of the program, and that the personality traits Agreeableness and Emotional Stability contributed to this success. The data also shows that although the attrition rate for the females was more than that for male students, the females were generally successful in first year. Had they continued, they would have successfully completed their engineering program because they had experienced success and had the cognitive abilities and personality traits that predicted success in the longer term.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2009 Lorelle Burton and David Dowling. The author assigns to the EE2010 organisers and educational non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. Deposited with permission of Author.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2011 11:45
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2014 00:19
Uncontrolled Keywords: success factors; student learning profiles; spatial ability; engineering students; gender
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170103 Educational Psychology
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170105 Gender Psychology
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520102 Educational psychology
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520502 Gender psychology
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390113 Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930199 Learner and Learning not elsewhere classified

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