Living in two worlds: Comparing chemical engineering students to other engineers and chemists Conference

Godwin, A, Potvin, G. (2013). Living in two worlds: Comparing chemical engineering students to other engineers and chemists .

cited authors

  • Godwin, A; Potvin, G


  • Often, engineering students are treated as a homogeneous population in post-secondary education. This paper explores the differences between chemical engineering students and chemistry majors as well as students of other engineering disciplines. The data used were drawn from the nationally- representative Sustainability and Gender in Engineering (SaGE) survey. This survey collected responses from 6,772 students in first-year English classes during Fall 2011. The survey included topics covering students' experiences in their last high school science classes, beliefs about engineering and sustainability, as well as their demographics and prior academic performance. According to students' responses on their likelihood of entering a particular major, 123 students were identified as chemical engineering students, 691 students were identified as some "other" engineering students, and 251 students were identified as chemistry majors. We compared responses of the chemical engineering students with these two disparate groups respectively to identify differences in high school experiences, attitudes, and backgrounds using t-tests for linear variables, Wilcoxon rank-sum tests for Likert-type questions, and chi-square tests for dichotomous variables. Chemical engineering students show uniqueness in their career goals when compared to both engineers as well as chemistry majors. For example, they differ significantly from other engineers in their prior chemistry experiences, problem solving strategies, and their science identity. Chemical engineers are almost indistinguishable from chemistry students in their high school science experiences and academic preparedness except for indicators of their physics and math identities. These findings have implications for student recruitment and matriculation into chemical engineering and the instruction of these students. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2013.

publication date

  • September 24, 2013