Women Engineering Students: Competence Perceptions and Achievement Goals in the Freshman Engineering Course

Women Engineering Students: Competence Perceptions and Achievement Goals in the Freshman... Research suggests that women engineering students in the United States typically have lower competence perceptions than their male classmates. According to achievement goal theory, low competence perceptions are associated with avoidance achievement goals which involve a preoccupation with avoiding failure rather than a focus on approaching success. The current study was conducted to see if women in a freshmen engineering course would rate their competence lower than their male classmates and if they would be more likely to adopt avoidance achievement goals. Further, would lower competence perceptions (i.e., perceived ability, self-efficacy) and avoidance goals have negative effects on grades and interest in the freshman engineering course? A sample of 117 first-semester engineering students from a U.S. Midwestern University completed surveys several times during the semester. Data were also collected from a sample of 82 first-semester students enrolled in an introductory psychology course for comparison purposes. Women in the freshman engineering course reported lower competence perceptions and higher levels of avoidance achievement goals than did men in the engineering course and than men and women in the psychology course. However, there were no significant gender differences in course grades or interest in the engineering course. Further analyses revealed indirect effects of gender on grades and interest in the engineering course through the competence perceptions. The indirect effects were negative suggesting lower values for women in engineering. The avoidance achievement goals were not influential in the indirect effects. The implications of these finding for the persistence of women in engineering are discussed. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

Women Engineering Students: Competence Perceptions and Achievement Goals in the Freshman Engineering Course

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-013-0325-9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Research suggests that women engineering students in the United States typically have lower competence perceptions than their male classmates. According to achievement goal theory, low competence perceptions are associated with avoidance achievement goals which involve a preoccupation with avoiding failure rather than a focus on approaching success. The current study was conducted to see if women in a freshmen engineering course would rate their competence lower than their male classmates and if they would be more likely to adopt avoidance achievement goals. Further, would lower competence perceptions (i.e., perceived ability, self-efficacy) and avoidance goals have negative effects on grades and interest in the freshman engineering course? A sample of 117 first-semester engineering students from a U.S. Midwestern University completed surveys several times during the semester. Data were also collected from a sample of 82 first-semester students enrolled in an introductory psychology course for comparison purposes. Women in the freshman engineering course reported lower competence perceptions and higher levels of avoidance achievement goals than did men in the engineering course and than men and women in the psychology course. However, there were no significant gender differences in course grades or interest in the engineering course. Further analyses revealed indirect effects of gender on grades and interest in the engineering course through the competence perceptions. The indirect effects were negative suggesting lower values for women in engineering. The avoidance achievement goals were not influential in the indirect effects. The implications of these finding for the persistence of women in engineering are discussed.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 28, 2013

References

  • Understanding our students: A longitudinal study of success and failure in engineering with implications for increased retention
    Bernold, LE; Spurlin, JE; Anson, CM
  • Gender and ethnicity differences in freshmen engineering student attitudes: A cross-institutional study
    Besterfield-Sacre, M; Moreno, M; Shuman, LJ; Atman, CJ
  • A six-year longitudinal study of undergraduate women in engineering and science
    Brainard, SG; Carlin, L

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