Predicting course performance in freshman and sophomore physics courses: Women are more predictable than men

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Abstract

This study investigated the extent to which thinking skills and mathematical competency would predict the course performance of freshman and sophomore science majors enrolled in physics courses. Multiple-regression equations revealed that algebra and critical thinking skills were the best overall predictors across several physics courses. Although arithmetic skills, math anxiety, and primary mental abilities scores also correlated with performance, they were redundant with the algebra and critical thinking. The most surprising finding of the study was the differential validity by sex; predictor variables were successful in predicting course performance for women but not for men.

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