Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Educational Research and Methods
This work falls under the ‘research’ type paper. The field of engineering education research is growing. Evidence includes a rapidly increasing number of degree programs, academic departments, conferences, and journals related to its study. Yet, at the same time, much of engineering education research is still being conducted by researchers with background in traditional engineering disciplines and without formal training in engineering education research methods. This is almost unilaterally true in countries where engineering education research has been recognized as an important area of scholarship for only the last decade. As calls to transform engineering education continue to be issued both in the U.S. and abroad, questions about the readiness of engineering faculty and students to conduct the necessary research to inform and implement these changes emerge.
This paper focuses on the design and development of a survey instrument to measure engineering education research self-efficacy (EERSE), or the self-perceived ability to conduct research in this area. A total of 28 items were initially written to measure this construct along three dimensions: general research tasks such as synthesizing literature and presenting research findings at a conference (12 items), quantitative research tasks such as designing a survey instrument and choosing an appropriate statistical technique for data analysis (7 items), and qualitative research tasks such as creating an interview protocol and describing patterns seen across a set of interviews (9 items). The instrument was electronically administered in the spring of 2019 to three groups: (1) U.S. faculty members who conduct engineering education research, (2) U.S. graduate students enrolled in engineering education doctoral programs, and (3) Indian faculty members who are new to but interested in conducting engineering education research.
An exploratory factor analysis revealed three factors along the expected dimensions. Cronbach’s alpha for the three dimensions ranged between 0.86 and 0.89, indicating high internal consistency between the items. The U.S faculty members reported higher self-efficacy related to performing general research tasks than both U.S. graduate students and Indian faculty members did. They also reported higher self-efficacy related to performing qualitative research tasks than Indian faculty members did. There were no differences in self-efficacy related to performing quantitative research tasks among the three groups.
Next steps for this work include administration of the survey to a new, larger sample of engineering education faculty and graduate students, which will be used to conduct a confirmatory analysis of the emergent EERSE factor structure. Looking at how EERSE varies according to demographic characteristics such as gender, type of highest degree, current academic department, and prior experience in conducting EER could be another direction for future work as well. Practically speaking, this instrument has the potential to be helpful for evaluating the efficacy of trainings and workshops focused on increasing faculty and graduate students’ EERSE. Researchers can also use the instrument as a tool to self-reflect on their EER capabilities.
Kittur, J., & Brunhaver, S. R. (2020, June), Developing an Instrument to Measure Engineering Education Research Self-efficacy Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34421
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