New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
This research paper explores the relationship between “student-to-other” closeness within a large-scale introductory engineering class and student performance as measured by final grade. Aron and Aron have developed the theory of self-expansion through their work on “including other in the self” (IOS) and have shown that self-expansion can have many benefits including sharing of resources and greater self confidence. We call this “closeness,” and have used Aron’s scale to measure student closeness to “others” in the engineering classroom – Professor, TA, Lab Group, Classroom and Friend. A total of 571 complete observations were obtained at three university locations among students enrolled in the local equivalent course, Introduction to Solid Mechanics or Statics. Classroom sizes varied from Large (~400 students) to Medium (125-150 students) to Small (75-90 students).
Results show that closeness plays an important role in classroom performance, particularly in combination with mechanics self-efficacy (or personal confidence in your mechanics aptitude and ability). Closeness varied significantly among “other” groups and by classroom size with closeness to Professor the lowest measure and declining pre-to-post over the academic term, in contrast to closeness to Friend being the highest measure and increased over the term. Closeness to the Teaching Assistant proved to be the single most important predictor of pre-to-post change in students’ overall feeling of closeness in the classroom. Closeness did vary by classroom size with significantly more reported closeness within the Small classroom over the Large classroom. Closeness was also generally greater among “minority” students – female, URM and First Generation College students.
Mechanics self-efficacy was a robust predictor of grade performance and showed a strong and significant correlation with closeness. Structural equation modeling shows that closeness is one of four major predictors of grade performance, along with mechanics self-efficacy, personal qualities such as URM and First Generation College status and class size. Finally, empathy levels were a meaningful predictor of closeness as had been expected. Implications are discussed including suggestions for ways to improve closeness within engineering classes and future research opportunities.
Schar, M., & Harris, A., & Witt, R. J., & Rice, R., & Sheppard, S. (2016, June), Connecting for Success; The Impact of Student-to-Other Closeness on Performance in Large-Scale Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26568
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