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Attitudes toward Pursuing Doctoral Studies in Engineering

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Lessons for New Engineering Educators

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.264.1 - 22.264.9



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Paper Authors


Hoda Baytiyeh American University, Beirut

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Hoda Baytiyeh is a computer engineer. She has earned a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is currently an assistant professor in the Education Department at The American University of Beirut. Her research interests include Engineering Education, ubiquitous computing using Open Source Software, and online learning communities.

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Mohamad K. Naja The Lebanese University

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Mohamad Naja has earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University at East Lansing. He is currently an associate professor in the Civil Engineering Department at The Lebanese University. He is teaching courses related to Dynamics of structures and Seismic design of buildings. His research focuses on behaviors of structures under earthquake loading, and quality of engineering Education.

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Attitudes toward Pursuing Doctoral Studies in EngineeringLittle is known about why students choose to enroll in post-graduate studies. Going through aPhD degree is often seen as a risky decision. This study brings insights into the current situationas well as contributes to the literature by providing a deeper understanding of how and whystudents develop an interest or a lack of interest in post graduate studies. Through this research,the authors attempt to answer the following question: What are the predictor factors forconsidering enrollment in engineering doctoral programs? The study offers responses’ analysisof two groups; the first consists of 274 graduate students enrolled in various engineeringprograms in Lebanon and the second consists of 187 working engineers scattered in severalcountries around the world working in different social and multicultural settings. Both groups ofparticipants completed a survey investigating the factors that may impact their decision to pursuea PhD. Based on the Theory of Reasoned Action, the Likert-scaled items aimed to identify theattitudinal and normative factors leading to the intention of enrolling in PhD. The Theory ofReasoned Action (TRA) helps characterizing human behavior. This model suggests thatsomeone’s Behavioral Intention (BI) depends on Attitude (A) and Subjective Norm (SN). Theattitude toward the behavior is someone’s overall evaluation of the behavior including the beliefsabout the consequences of this behavior and the corresponding positive/negative judgment abouteach feature of this behavior. The subjective norm is the individual’s own estimate of the socialpressure to perform/not perform this behavior, or in other words the influence of people in one’ssocial environment. An Independent t-test revealed no significance between students andengineers’ intention. An exploratory Factor Analysis provided four factors: professional attitude,social attitude, financial attitude, and subjective norm. Repeated measures ANOVA indicatedsignificant differences among the four factor scores. The Professional attitude was shown as themost important for participants followed by the Financial attitude, the Subjective norm, and theSocial attitude. The findings are discussed and recommendations for future studies are offered.

Baytiyeh, H., & Naja, M. K. (2011, June), Attitudes toward Pursuing Doctoral Studies in Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17545

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