Background: This study, based on Astin’s input-environment-outcome (I-E-O) model, proposes a refined model that is helpful for understanding the STEM gender difference and learning process. The multiple pathways depicting the relationship among achievement motivation and learning experiences for STEM college students are currently unknown in this field. Purpose: This study focused on two research questions: (a) Are there significant differences in achievement motivation, student engagement, and learning outcomes between male and female STEM college students? (b) How are male and female STEM college students’ achievement motivations, mediated by student engagement, associated with their learning outcomes? Sample: This study used empirical data from the Survey Research Data Archive of Taiwan Academia Sinica in Taiwan. The participants were recruited from one highly selective science/engineering research university in Taiwan. There were 280 STEM students left after deleting students from social science and management majors. Methods: A MANOVA and a structural equation model (SEM) were used in the analysis. Results: The results found that male STEM college students reported significantly higher scores on practical STEM competence gains than female STEM college students. In addition, the results of multi-group SEM found that there were no significant differences in male and female students. The results indicated that IOAM (individual oriented achievement motivation) had a significant relationship to practical STEM competence gains via the engagement behaviors of active participation and interactions with instructors. However, SOAM (social-oriented achievement motivation) can only predict interactions with instructors, and cannot predict the learning outcomes. Conclusions: The result of the MANOVA analysis indicated that male STEM college students perceived significantly higher practical STEM competence gains. This result was noteworthy because these male and female STEM college students receive the same curriculum, instructors, and learning environment, and there was no significant gender difference in current class rank. In addition, the result of SEM highlighted the importance of IOAM. More discussion and implications follow.
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