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The purpose of this study was to compare the academic achievement of first-year female engineering students based on participation, or lack thereof, in the honors program. A single research question was developed for this study: “Is there a significant difference in academic achievement of first-year female engineering Honors Program students and non-honors program students?” The problem for this study was that many students in the Freshman Engineering program at Purdue University believed that participation in an honors program damaged students’ grade point averages with its challenging curriculum. This was especially true for beginning female students entering a traditionally male-dominated career field.
Data regarding first- and second-semester (thus also annual) cumulative grade point averages were collected for the 268 subjects. A t-test for independent samples was used to determine if a significant difference existed in grade point averages; the results indicated a significant difference in the academic achievement of the first-year honors and non-honors female engineering students. First-year female engineering students participating in the honors program earned significantly higher grades than first-year female engineering students who did not participate in the honors program for both semesters of enrollment. Results of this study concluded that enrolling in a more challenging curriculum did not negatively impact the academic achievement outcomes of high-achieving, first-year female engineering students at Purdue University.