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Assessment of Changes in Confidence and Judgements of Problem-Solving Processes in Senior Level Chemical Engineering Students

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Assessment in Chemical Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Jessica Pittman Texas Tech University

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Jessica is a 4th year graduate student at Texas Tech University in the Cognitive Experimental Psychology doctoral program. He interests broadly revolve around student self-regulation in the context of higher education.

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Sheima Khatib Texas Tech University


Roman Taraban Texas Tech University

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Professor in Psychological Sciences

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Metacognitive reflection and problem-solving confidence are key factors in the development of problem-solving skills. However, engineering education research has seldom looked at the relationship between confidence, as an affective process, and problem-solving skills, as a more technical or analytic process. The goal of this study was to identify and quantify students’ reflections on changes in their confidence that emerged through participation in a content-review course for engineering students – i.e., determine what students reported to be the driving forces behind changes in confidence. The participants were chemical engineering seniors who completed a 3-credit course that, in part, reviewed major Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Chemical topics that constitute the core courses in the Chemical Engineering curriculum to prepare for taking the FE exam. Changes in students’ confidence and reflective processing were measured through a weekly survey. The weekly surveys consisted of both Likert ratings and open-ended questions. The latter asked students to respond to the following prompt: Briefly state why your confidence did or did not change (after completing this week’s activities). Student responses were categorized by human coders using a basic interpretive approach. Frequencies of categorized units representing students’ responses were calculated and correlated with Likert ratings for initial confidence, confidence following topic coverage, and metacognitive reflection, as well as with mock FE exam scores. An exploratory k-means cluster analysis further identified students belonging to four clusters. A potential implication of this study for engineering education is to highlight the importance of students’ confidence in problem-solving skills for subsequent performance. Importantly, this study presents students’ perceptions and appraisals of the course activities that impact their problem-solving confidence.

Pittman, J., & Khatib, S., & Taraban, R. (2022, August), Assessment of Changes in Confidence and Judgements of Problem-Solving Processes in Senior Level Chemical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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