Outcomes for Female Students Within a Summer Engineering Program: Single-Sex Versus Coeducation

Trina Lolita Fletcher, Purdue University


African American and Black women are twice as likely to enroll in higher education in comparison to Black men. However, when it comes to engineering degrees awarded in 2015, only 24% of the Black recipients were women. A potential solution may be to introduce engineering to pre-college Black female students through extracurricular program. Being exposed to engineering education during the summer with the inclusion of mentors and/or role models has been well-documented as an avenue for increasing the enrollment and retention of Black women in engineering. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has hosted the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) since 2007. As of 2015, over 15,000 students between the third and twelfth grades had participated in the program. The 2015 SEEK external evaluation report stated that the single-sex (SS) sites had higher scores for the academic outcomes and select interest outcomes in comparison to the coeducation (CoEd) sites. The purpose of this dissertation was to determine if there is a statistically significant difference between various outcomes for female participants at SS sites versus CoEd sites and determine if there is a relationship between the pre-post-assessment questions and the site type. A quantitative analysis was conducted to answer three research questions related to female participant outcomes at both site types. The three areas of focus and research questions included (1) academic outcomes and perceptions of STEM knowledge, (2) interest outcomes and (3) perceptions of mentors. Independent t-tests, chi-square tests and descriptive statistics were used to investigate the potential influence of site types on female participants’ experiences within the SEEK program. The data was analyzed using Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) framework. Results showed that female participants at SS sites had statistically significant differences in their favor for several of the outcomes, while females at CoEd sites had similar results but for a smaller number of outcomes. For perceptions of mentors, all five questions showed a trend of higher mean averages for SS sites, with two of the five showing differences that were statistically significant.




Cardella, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Educational tests & measurements|Educational evaluation|Engineering

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