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Success in Science or Engineering

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1 Author(s)
Alexander G. Grasberg ; RCA Laboratories, Princeton, N. J. Formerly M.I.T., Cambridge, Mass.

This study tests several hypotheses concerning the effects that family structure has on an individual's personality development and its influence on his success in a science or engineering curriculum. One of the principal ideas tested is that success in college in science or engineering requires that the student develop strong feelings of independence and consequently be free from over-concern with interpersonal relations. Data were gathered on sixty undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Two groups of thirty students each were selected: one a "successful" group and the other an "unsuccessful" group. Success and lack of success were defined in terms of academic performance. In general, the successful students come from homes in which the power structure and the roles of the parents are more clearly defined, thus allowing these boys to have a stronger identification with their fathers. The successful students are also found to be less concerned with interpersonal relations. The low achievers showed a stronger preference to work with people than did the high achievers. To explore further the origins of concern with interpersonal relations, two deviate subgroups, one from each sample, were studied in depth: the high achievers who preferred to work with people, and the low achievers who preferred not to work with people.

Published in:

IRE Transactions on Education  (Volume:2 ,  Issue: 3 )