Predictive validity of five cognitive skills tests among women receiving engineering training

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Abstract

This article addresses two sets of theoretical and practical issues related to increasing the percentage of women engineers. First, the measurement of women's aptitude for and changes in skills during engineering training was assessed. Five cognitive skills tests were administered in a one-group pretest-posttest design to 24 baccalaureate women enrolled in an eleven-month engineering training course. Significant increases in skills were shown on three of the five assessments. Scores on a mathematics anxiety scale and a measure of conservation of horizontality are also reported. Second, the relationship of academic and demographic information and cognitive skills to degree of success in the program is reported. Pretraining spatial visualization scores predicted posttraining GPA group membership. The results are compared and contrasted with those of studies of male undergraduates. Implications are drawn concerning the ways in which evaluations of such programs can contribute to our understanding of the changes in skills that occur with training in engineering and of the factors that predict success in such programs.

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