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Developing An Instrument To Measure Tinkering And Technical Self Efficacy In Engineering

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Student Engagement and Motivation

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.392.1 - 13.392.11



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Paper Authors


Dale Baker Arizona State University

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Dale Baker, Arizona State University
Dale R. Baker is a Professor of Science Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at ASU and is the Co-Editor of The Journal of Research in Science Teaching. She teaches courses in science curricula, teaching and learning, and assessment courses with an emphasis on constructivist theory and issues of equity. Her research focuses on issues of gender, science, and science teaching. She has won two awards for her research in these areas.

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Stephen Krause Arizona State University

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Stephen Krause, Arizona State University
Stephen J. Krause is Professor in the School of Materials in the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University. His teaching responsibilities are in the areas of bridging engineering and education, design and selection of materials, general materials engineering, polymer science, and characterization of materials. His research interests are in innovative education in engineering and K-12 engineering outreach. He has co-developed a Materials Concept Inventory for assessing fundamental knowledge of students in introductory materials engineering classes. Most recently, he has been working on Project Pathways, an NSF supported Math Science Partnership, in developing modules for a courses on Connecting Mathematics with Physics and Chemistry and also a course on Engineering Capstone Design

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Senay Purzer

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Senay Yasar, Arizona State University
Senay Yasar is a Ph.D. student in Science Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona State University. She earned her MA degree in Science Education at Arizona State University. Her BS degree is in Physics Education. Her principle research areas are inquiry-based learning and science and engineering education. She teaches an elementary science methods course for undergraduate students and is a research assistant on an NSF project.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developing an Instrument to Measure Tinkering and Technical Self-Efficacy in Engineering

abstract An instrument to measure tinkering and technical self-efficacy was developed based on recommendations by Bandura. Self-efficacy is defined as an individual’s beliefs about their ability to engage in activities that will result in successfully attaining specific goals. Thus, self- efficacy is context and skills specific rather than a global judgment of ability. Tinkering and technical self-efficacy in engineering are important because individuals with low self-efficacy in these areas are more likely to leave engineering majors independent of their levels of achievement. This is especially true for women. Consequently, the development of an instrument with good predictive power can be a useful tool for creating interventions for retention in engineering majors. The first phase of this study to develop a predictive instrument was to establish the content validity. During this phase, we used two open-ended questions asking the respondents to identify tinkering and technical skills. Eight hundred and seventy-one statements were obtained from a volunteer expert sample of 101 respondents. A count of statements with the same meaning was conducted and the most frequently mentioned were used to write questions. Approximately half were worded positively and half negatively. The tinkering and technical scales each consisted of 30 questions. The second phase of the study started with the development of a Likert-scale survey using these statements. The instrument was given in freshman design classes (n=84 students). Students were asked to rate themselves on a Likert scale from not descriptive of me (0) to very descriptive of me (5). The analysis indicated that students had moderate self-efficacy in terms of technical skills. Mean item scores were between 3.2 and 3.7. Students rejected negatively worded items on both scales as not descriptive with mean scores between 0 and 2. Students reported the least technical self-efficacy on the item “I can statistically model a process”. Ratings on the tinkering scale included items with means scores above 4.0. These items were: “I can think outside the box”, “I know how to use tools”, I want to know how things work and how to make them better”, and “I have the persistence to complete a project”. The reliability of the tinkering scale was .87 and the reliability of the technical scale was .80. A factor analysis found three factors for tinkering. Factor one was labeled knowledge and experience, factor two creativity and curiosity and factor three knowledge and skills. There were also three factors for technical skills. Factor one was labeled technical knowledge, factor two understanding theories and models and factor three systems and how things work.

introduction The purpose of this research was to develop an instrument to measure tinkering and technical self-efficacy in engineering. Such an instrument has many uses among which are identifying students who many enter engineering with low self-efficacy or students whose self-efficacy declines as they study engineering. Efficacy measures must be tailored to specific domains and their specific skill sets. Data about students’ tinkering and technical self-efficacy can then be used to design specific interventions. Such interventions are important because low self-efficacy in engineering is related to leaving engineering majors and is more common among women students than men students.

Baker, D., & Krause, S., & Purzer, S. (2008, June), Developing An Instrument To Measure Tinkering And Technical Self Efficacy In Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3413

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