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A Comparison of Design Self-Efficacy of Mechanical Engineering Freshmen, Sophomores, and Seniors

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.30.1 - 23.30.15

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Paper Authors

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Joanna Tsenn Texas A&M University

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Daniel A. McAdams Texas A&M University

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Julie S Linsey Texas A&M University

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Bio-Inspired Design Impacting Self-Efficacy of Engineering Undergraduates A student’s belief about their own ability in completing a task will influence their actionsand the resulting outcome. This “belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the coursesof action required to manage prospective situations” is known as self-efficacy and it has beenshown that it can aid in predicting the levels of accomplishment of the individual (Bandura,1997). With high self-efficacy, a student will use more cognitive and metacognitive strategiesand be more likely to select challenging tasks due to their confidence that they will be able tocomplete the task. Upon encountering a problem, an individual with higher self-efficacy is oftenwilling to put in additional effort and is more persistent in solving the problem. The continuedeffort, persistence, and perseverance will increase the likelihood that the student will besuccessful in accomplishing their task. It is essential to nurture these beliefs throughout astudent’s undergraduate education to help them achieve their potential. They hypothesis of this study is that the design self-efficacy of undergraduate mechanicalengineering students will increase as they progress through the undergraduate curriculum. Asthe students take additional courses, their beliefs in their abilities to complete an engineeringdesign task should increase as their knowledge base increases. Males and females arehypothesized to have similar levels of design self-efficacy since they take the same coursestogether. Self-efficacy surveys are difficult to create because an optimum level of task and domainspecificity is needed to elicit an accurate assessment. Fortunately, an engineering design self-efficacy survey was developed and validated by Carberry et al. (2010) to reliably identify fourtask-specific self-concepts. The survey asks for an individual’s confidence in their ability toperform eight tasks of the engineering design process along with asking about their motivation,expectancy of success, and degree of anxiety with regard to the tasks For each self-concept,students use a Likert-type scale to score their views for each engineering design task. In thisstudy, male and female freshmen, sophomores, and seniors in the mechanical engineeringdepartment at Texas A&M University completed the survey prior to working on a designactivity. The self-efficacy results of the different groups will be discussed. As engineering educators, we need to recognize the importance of students’ self-efficacy.We need to encourage the students to be confident in their abilities in order to help them attainhigher levels of accomplishment through greater effort, persistence, and perseverance.Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: Freeman.Carberry, A. R., Lee, H. S., & Ohland, M. W. (2010). Measuring Engineering Design Self- Efficacy. Journal of Engineering Education, 99(1), 71-79.

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