This study built on previous research that found significant differences in the mean level of academic success (i.e., course grades) for students who participated in a mechatronic experience (i.e., integrating mechanical, electronic, and computer systems) vs. those who did not. This paper further examined this variation in course grades by conducting a two-way Analysis of Covariance to understand the impact academic major (i.e., technology major vs. non-technology major) and group assignment (i.e., control vs. treatment) had, while controlling for pre-study covariates of GPA, ACT, age, and technical experience. When adjusting for differences in ACT and GPA scores, we found significant main effects for group assignment (expected), but not for major (unexpected). Furthermore, no interaction effects where found between academic major and group assignment. When analyzing age and previous technical experience level (i.e., mechanical, electrical, and computer systems), we found age to be a significant predictor of course grades, while previous experience (in any area) was not. This would indicate that younger students performed better in the course, while, contrary to education theory, previous technical experience had no impact on course grades. This study used a quasi-experimental, nonequivalent group design with a convenience sample of n = 84 students in a first-year technology course. It looks to expand the empirical foundations supporting the impacts of mechatronic experiences on academic success.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john-haughery/17/