June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Educational Research and Methods
Identity, or how people choose to define themselves, is emerging as an attractive explanation for who persists in engineering. Many studies of engineering identity build off of prior work in math and science identity, emphasizing the academic aspects of engineering. However, affect towards professional practice is also central to engineering identity development. This paper describes the methods used to create a new survey measure of individuals’ affect toward elements of engineering practice. We followed the item generation, refinement, and instrument validation steps required for psychometric validation of a new survey measure. We generated items deductively using the literature on engineering professional skills and practice and inductively based on interviews with practicing engineers, engineering graduate students, and engineering undergraduate students. We blended the inductively and deductively derived item lists to create a list of initial items for the measure. We circulated this list of items to a set of engineering and professional identity experts to establish face validity and made modifications based on their feedback. The final list included 34 items. These 34 items were administered in a questionnaire survey in the fall of 2016 to 1465 engineering undergraduates in three majors at two institutions. We conducted an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and established internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha on a subset of the analytical sample data (n=384). The resulting factors fit our a priori assumption of the factors theorized to characterize affect towards engineering professional practice. Using the remaining data (n=904), we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis on the reduced set of items resulting from EFA. The results indicate an emergent factor structure for affect towards elements of engineering practice.
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