The CSU Engineering Admissions Process: A Preliminary Analysis

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CONTEXT The Charles Sturt University (CSU) Engineering Program is the first of its kind in Australia. Abstaining from traditional course structure, high stakes testing, and a strict ATAR cut-off for admission, CSU staff have developed and implemented an admissions process to try to identify potential student engineering candidates for their program. Since CSU has set a maximum cohort size of 50 students per year, the need for the most effective means of identifying potentially successful student engineers is a top priority. The primary motivation for this work is to understand the impacts of the CSU admissions process, and identify the variables most indicative of future performance in the program. PURPOSE The purpose of this research is to evaluate the validity of the CSU Engineering admissions process, and to identify any correlations between entry credentials and subsequent academic performance. Since the application process includes traditional UAC procedures, a secondary application form, a direct application option, and a final interview, the analysis of this data and its relationship to topic completion and design challenge marks will help inform recruiting efforts in the future.
APPROACH Data was collected from student applications including course preparation, ATAR scores, secondary application responses, and interview evaluations. Quantitative analysis was done using the ShapiroWilks test and the Spearman model to compare selection parameters (Total Topic Completion, ENG161 Marks, Math Topic Completion, and CSU Engineering Topic Completion) and statistically significant correlations were identified. A p-value less than 0.05 was considered statistically
RESULTS The results of this study show correlations between topic completion and performance on engineering design challenges. In particular, entering student engineers with ATARs above 70 seem to be both completing topics at a faster rate, and performing better on their design challenges. Further, overall topic completion is correlated most strongly with Khan Academy math topic completion, implying that high school preparation in mathematics may be a strong predictor of performance in the CSU Engineering course.
CONCLUSIONS Based on the results of this study, it is clear that applicants with ATARs above 70 are performing better than those with lower ATARs, but outliers remain. While the ATAR does seem to be predictive of student performance in higher education, the outlier cases need to investigated qualitatively to help identify potentially successful student engineers whose abilities are not being captured by the traditional ATAR metric.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education
EditorsScott T. Smith, Yee Yan Lim, Alireza Bahadori, Neal Lake, Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Andrew Rose, Ken Doust
Place of PublicationLismore, Australia
PublisherSouthern Cross University
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780994152046
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education: AAEE 2016 - Novotel Pacific Bay Resort, Coffs Harbour, Australia
Duration: 04 Dec 201607 Dec 2016;isbn=9780994152039;res=IELENG (conference publications)


Conference27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education
Abbreviated titleThe Changing Role of the Engineering Educator for Developing the Future Engineer
CityCoffs Harbour
Internet address


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