Do gender differentials play any role in university physics students? performance?

06 Oct 2017

Against international literature that indicates that gender differences exist in the performance in introductory physics level students, this paper has examined the prospects of gender based differences in students? performance in introductory physics at the university level in South Africa. The study was conducted at four South African universities using a sample of 194 students. A third (68) of the participants in this research were female students. Student performance was measured through two instruments, namely 1) The Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE) tests adapted from Thornton and Sokoloff (1998) and 2) the student?s introductory physics mechanics marks. Both FMCE and mechanics courses lay the foundation for other physics courses. Student performances on the two instruments were analysed. The students? outcomes on these tests suggest that in the South African context, gender differentials do not necessarily predict performance in physics. In conclusion, this paper discusses other factors which in the context of South Africa need attention as possible barriers to general outcomes in physics