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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN En Línea: 1940-431X

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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2013006530
pages 1-10

GENDER DIFFERENCES IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF AND CONFIDENCE IN PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITIES

Shelly L. Wismath
Mathematics and Computer Science Department, Liberal Education Program, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB Canada, T1K-3M4
Maggie Zhong
Liberal Education Program, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB Canada, T1K-3M4

SINOPSIS

Problem-solving skills are crucial components of an education for the 21st century, and confidence and self-efficacy have been shown to be critical to the development and practice of such skills. In a study of perceptions of and confidence in problem-solving abilities by students enrolled in a university course specifically focused on teaching problem-solving skills, we found significant gender differences in perceived confidence and ability. The average score for all students (male and female) on these indicators increased significantly from the pre-test to post-test. However, female students ranked themselves much lower in both confidence and abilities at the start of the course than male students, but also showed a remarkably larger increase in these indicators by the end of the course. This result confirms the necessity of and potential for helping female students develop confidence in their problem-solving abilities. Courses designed to improve problem-solving skills in university students can increase the confidence and abilities of both male and female students, while decreasing the gap between the genders.


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