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Developing an Instrument to Measure Online Engineering Undergraduate Students’ Learning Experiences and Intentions to Persist

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Teaching and Learning in Online Environments

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Eunsil Lee Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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Eunsil Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education Systems and Design program at Arizona State University (ASU) in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, The Polytechnic School. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in Clothing and Textiles from Yonsei University (South Korea) with the concentration area of Nanomaterials and Biomaterials in Textiles. She began her Ph.D. study in Textile Engineering but shifted her path toward Engineering Education a year later. Her research interests currently focuses on engineering doctoral students in underserved populations such as women and international students.

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Samantha Ruth Brunhaver Arizona State University

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Samantha Brunhaver is an Assistant Professor of Engineering in the Fulton Schools of Engineering Polytechnic School. Dr. Brunhaver recently joined Arizona State after completing her M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She also has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University. Dr. Brunhaver's research examines the career decision-making and professional identity formation of engineering students, alumni, and practicing engineers. She also conducts studies of new engineering pedagogy that help to improve student engagement and understanding.

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Jennifer M. Bekki Arizona State University

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She teaches courses in the engineering and manufacturing engineering programs as well as programs in the Engineering Education Systems and Design PhD program. Her research interests include topics related to student persistence, STEM doctoral student experiences, faculty mentorship and development, modeling and analysis of complex manufacturing systems, and the development of new discrete event simulation methodologies. Bekki is the co-director of the interdisciplinary, National Science Foundation supported CareerWISE research program, which strives to: 1) understand the experiences of diverse women who are pursuing and leaving doctoral programs in science and engineering and 2) increase women’s persistence in science and engineering doctoral programs through the development and dissemination of an online resilience and interpersonal communication training program.

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The purpose of this study is to develop an instrument to measure student perceptions about the learning experiences in their online undergraduate engineering courses. Online education continues to grow broadly in higher education, but the movement toward acceptance and comprehensive utilization of online learning has generally been slower in engineering. Recently, however, there have been indicators that this could be changing. For example, ABET has accredited online undergraduate engineering degrees at Stony Brook University and Arizona State University (ASU), and an increasing number of other undergraduate engineering programs also offer online courses.

During this period of transition in engineering education, further investigation about the online modality in the context of engineering education is needed, and survey instrumentation can support such investigations. The instrument presented in this paper is grounded in a Model for Online Course-level Persistence in Engineering (MOCPE), which was developed by our research team by combining two motivational frameworks used to study student persistence: the Expectancy x Value Theory of Achievement Motivation (EVT), and the ARCS model of motivational design. The initial MOCPE instrument contained 79 items related to students’ perceptions about the characteristics of their courses (i.e., the online learning management system, instructor practices, and peer support), expectancies of course success, course task values, perceived course difficulties, and intention to persist in the course. Evidence of validity and reliability was collected using a three-step process. First, we tested face and content validity of the instrument with experts in online engineering education and online undergraduate engineering students. Next, the survey was administered to the online undergraduate engineering student population at a large, Southwestern public university, and an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted on the responses. Lastly, evidence of reliability was obtained by computing the internal consistency of each resulting scale. The final instrument has seven scales with 67 items across 10 factors. The Cronbach alpha values for these scales range from 0.85 to 0.97. The full paper will provide complete details about the development and psychometric evaluation of the instrument, including evidence of and reliability.

The instrument described in this paper will ultimately be used as part of a larger, National Science Foundation-funded project investigating the factors influencing online undergraduate engineering student persistence. It is currently being used in the context of this project to conduct a longitudinal study intended to understand the relationships between the experiences of online undergraduate engineering students in their courses and their intentions to persist in the course. We anticipate that the instrument will be of interest and use to other engineering education researchers who are also interested in studying the population of online students.

Lee, E., & Brunhaver, S. R., & Bekki, J. M. (2020, June), Developing an Instrument to Measure Online Engineering Undergraduate Students’ Learning Experiences and Intentions to Persist Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34422

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