Publication Details

P. Ciufo, "Analysis of First-year Student performance in an Engineering Program," The International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 27, (5) pp. 1054-1060, 2011.


During the last ten years, the typical criteria for entry to an engineering course at a university in NSW, Australia, has been based on the University Admission Index (UAI). It was an index derived largely from the achievements of a student in examinations at the end of their secondary school education. The UAI provided a measure of overall academic achievement that assisted institutions to rank applicants for tertiary selection. In 2010, the UAI in NSW was replaced by the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). A student who is able to rank well enough, will be able to enter an engineering course of their choice without any further testing of cognitive ability. Students who are unable to achieve the desired ranking will need to find alternative methods of entry. The question of just where this ranking cut-off lies could be regarded as a subjective measure; is it possible that universities are denying entry to students that have potential to become successful engineers? In this paper, an analysis of the performance of a group of students that have completed their first-year of study in electrical engineering at the University of Wollongong during the years 2000-2010 is undertaken. Student groupings are created based on their background knowledge and their performances investigated. The result is a collection of results that illustrate the likelihood of a student achieving an acceptable result at the end of their first year of study.