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Board #161 - Uncovering factors that alter self-efficacy in Hispanic freshmen engineering students

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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The goal of this educational research contribution is to identify factors that affect self-efficacy in Hispanic freshmen engineering students. It is well known across the educational literature that improvement in self-efficacy with students in STEM is influenced by specialized teaching and learning-focused pedagogies. Also within this literature are additional data to support claims that self-efficacy is inherently lower for students of color as they seek achievement in STEM and engineering degrees. In general many researchers have sought to understand why STEM self-efficacy is different when comparing Hispanic and non-Hispanic students. Expectedly, the influencing elements are attributed to internal (cultural background) as well as external (teaching & learning) factors. We found the differences in engineering self-efficacy interesting because our institution serves a majority of Hispanic students from our state and region. Moreover, many of our faculty within the college of engineering have recognized a uniqueness about our engineering students that might contradict this notion. That is, many Hispanic students arrive on campus having already experienced ‘hands on’ engineering-related jobs owing to trades (i.e. carpentry, welding, auto repair, farming, etc.) they have learned from their communities or passed down by family businesses. They are perceived with ample self-confidence which is possibly influenced by their breadth of ‘real-world’ engineering experiences. Therefore we sought to incorporate this anecdotal evidence in a study that explores the interconnection between self-efficacy, minority status, and teaching with an entrepreneurial mindset focus. Entrepreneurial minded learning (EML) helps prepare students for a workforce that requires integration of engineering with innovation and customer-oriented mindsets. Additionally EML projects incorporate narratives that ‘hook,’ or pique, student interest by focusing customer needs around storied projects related to community and culture. Therefore with such unique dynamics that possibly interact in a complex way, we designed surveys that probe student cultural experiences, background, and self-efficacy. Additionally, we have set up teaching interventions that incorporate cultural “EML hooks,” learning in spaces that enhance innovation in thought and engineering design, and team-based projects. We then layered our intervention by including control groups and ‘lightly mentored’ groups to study faculty involvement as well as peer-mentoring involvement. All surveys and interventions were performed in freshmen student cohorts across different semesters. Our results include data we quantify from surveys (Likert style answers about self-efficacy) as well as qualitative analyses in which we identify common themes related to demographics, experiences, and interests. We break down differences we see in teaching effectiveness, observational conclusions related to team-work, as well as an analysis on if introductory engineering classes alone (without EML) influences student self-efficacy after the freshmen course. Some of the conclusions of this work include the notion that introductory engineering classes do influence self-efficacy despite adding EML. Also we find that Hispanic and non-Hispanic students at our institution have similar self-efficacy at the beginning of the semester. With other variables in this work, we draw conclusions about how students feel as they proceed into discipline-specific engineering post-freshmen coursework and ultimately tie their formation as engineers to best practices in our college with our freshmen student body and the use of entrepreneurial minded learning. We acknowledge support by the National Science Foundation ‘Research Initiation for Engineering Formation’ Grant 1640523.

(2019, June), Board #161 - Uncovering factors that alter self-efficacy in Hispanic freshmen engineering students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida.

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