Tampere University of Technology (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 3299-3308
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Different teaching methods have already been studied at the Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Dep. of Energy and Process Engineering for a few years now. For example, during 2004-2006, TUT had the three-year-long E-Girls – Towards technology project in which the aim of the project was to increase the number of female students in technology by making it easier for them to find their way, in particular, to the fields of electrical engineering and electronics. One part of the research has been to develop teaching materials, which are also interesting to female students. The aim of this paper is to compare the female and male university students’ exam results using different basic courses in the Environmental and Energy area. For the comparison, we chose two courses, which are quite different. The course “Introduction to Energy Production” included very technical topics and calculation tasks and the course “Basic course of Environmental health” included health topics and no calculation tasks. In the exam for the course “Introduction to Energy Production”, 40% of the questions were essay questions and 60% were calculation tasks. The course “Basic course of Environmental health” included only essay questions.

We compared one exam from both courses. For the exam of the course “Introduction to Energy Production“, 81 students (59 male students and 22 female students) participated and for the exam of the “Basic course of Environmental health”, 41 students (24 male students and 17 female students) participated. Both exams were graded so that the student can receive a number from 0 to 5. The zero is failed and number five is the best result.

The statistical analyses were done using the IBM SPSS Statistics version 19. In the course “Introduction to Energy Production”, the average results of all students were 3.1 (female students’ average was 3.3 and male students’ average was 3.0). In the course “Basic course of Environmental health”, the average of all student results was 2.5 (female students’ average was 3.4 and male students’ average was 1.9). We used an independent samples Mann-Whitney U –test, and in the course of “Basic course of Environmental health” the difference in gender comparison was significant (asymp.sig (2-tailed) = 0.002**); but in the course “Introduction to Energy Production“, it was not significant (asymp.sig (2-tailed) = 0.378).

From the results, we can see that in both exams, the female students’ average result was higher than male students’ results. However, in the course “Introduction to Energy Production“, the difference is not significant. Based on our data, it is possible that female students can get better results from essay tasks than male students. In this evaluation we used only two courses and one exam from both courses, so our data is quite limited. It is possible that, for example, students’ earlier education can be somewhat different, and it can have an influence on the results. At TUT, students can choose their courses quite freely, so they can have quite different skills when they come to a new course.

In the full paper, we will presents more analyses of the exam results, e.g., we will compare the calculation tasks and essay tasks from the exam of the course “Introduction to Energy Production“, and we will try to find out more about the skill level of the students before they participated in the course “Introduction to Energy Production“.
Education, Energy, Gender.