Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Academic Background and Self-Beliefs as Predictors of Student Grade Performance in Science, Engineering and Mathematics

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Academic Background and Self-Beliefs as Predictors of Student Grade Performance in Science, Engineering and Mathematics

Article excerpt

There is considerable interest in student achievement in science, engineering, and mathematics (SEM). In general, there are relatively low persistence rates in SEM disciplines; results from a recent national retention study found that only 35% of students who began college as SEM majors persisted to eventually graduate in SEM disciplines (Smith, 1995). Further, there is particular interest in the identification of factors that are related to the persistence of women and minority students in SEM disciplines (Grandy, 1994). The percentage of bachelor's degrees in science and engineering that were awarded to women has increased 15% from 1968 to 1989 (Barber, 1995); in 1989, 40.2% of the bachelor's degrees awarded in science and engineering went to women. In addition, it has been suggested that differential participation in high school mathematics can adversely affect the participation of women students in college majors (such as science, engineering, and mathematics) that require mathematical skills (Oakes, 1990). However, it has been pointed out that research is needed to examine how student characteristics influence the subsequent achievement of students in SEM disciplines (Moore & Smith, 1987; Seymour, 1995).

Considerable research has examined student grade performance and persistence in college and several academic background variables and other factors have been identified as significant predictors of achievement outcomes. For instance, admissions test scores and high school achievement have been shown to be significantly correlated with subsequent cumulative GPA (Baron & Newman, 1992) and with continued enrollment in college. Further, academic background and self-belief variables have been shown to be significant predictors of grade performance in specific general education courses (House, Keeley, & Hurst, 1996; House & Prion, 1998). Other studies have also found that several self-belief variables, such as academic self-concept and achievement expectancies, are also predictive of academic outcomes in college. Considering grade performance, specific personality characteristics and interests have been found to significantly predict cumulative GPA (Brown, 1994; Wolfe & Johnson, 1995). With regard to continued enrollment in college, students' intention to persist had the single largest total effect on persistence in a structural equation analysis of traditional new freshmen (Cabrera, Nora, & Castaneda, 1993). Similarly, self-perceptions of overall academic ability and drive to achieve were found to be significantly correlated with persistence for two years in college while expectations of graduating with honors were significantly related to persistence in college for four years (House, 1992).

Numerous studies have assessed the predictive relationship between academic background measures and other factors with grade performance in science, engineering, and mathematics courses. Considering academic background variables, several studies have investigated the efficacy of admissions test scores as predictors of course performance. For instance, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores have been found to be significant predictors of grades in college algebra (Bridgeman, 1982) and finite mathematics (Troutman, 1978). Similarly, American College Testing (ACT) scores have been shown to be significantly correlated with student achievement in college algebra (Kohler, 1973), finite mathematics (House, 1995b), and calculus (Edge & Friedberg, 1984; Keeley, Hurst, & House, 1994). Other researchers have evaluated the relationship between admissions test scores and grade performance in college science courses. For example, several studies have found admissions test scores to be significant predictors of grades earned in college science courses (Craney & Armstrong, 1985; House, 1994; Ozsogomonyan & Loftus, 1979; Pederson, 1975). Finally, high school preparation (the number of years of high school mathematics taken) was a significant predictor of grades earned in a college chemistry course (House, 1995a). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.