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How Do Student Perceptions of Engineers and Engineering as a Career Relate to their Self-Efficacy, Career Expectations, and Grittiness?

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Metacognition, Self-Efficacy, and Motivation #2

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First-Year Programs

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Melissa Lynn Morris University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Melissa Morris is currently an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She previously served as a Teaching Associate Professor for the Freshman Engineering Program, in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University (WVU). She graduated Summa cum Laude with a BSME in 2006, earned a MSME in 2008, and completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering in 2011, all from WVU. At WVU, she has previously served as the Undergraduate and Outreach Advisor for the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and the Assistant Director of the Center for Building Energy Efficiency. She has previously taught courses such as Thermodynamics, Thermal Fluids Laboratory, and Guided Missiles Systems, as well as serving as a Senior Design Project Advisor for Mechanical Engineering Students. Her research interests include energy and thermodynamic related topics. Since 2007 she has been actively involved in recruiting and outreach for the Statler College, as part of this involvement Dr. Morris frequently makes presentations to groups of K-12 students.

Dr. Morris was selected as a the ASEE North Central Section Outstanding Teacher in 2018.

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Joseph Dygert West Virginia University

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Ph.D student in aerospace engineering at West Virginia University.

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Robin A.M. Hensel West Virginia University

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Robin A. M. Hensel, Ed.D., is the Assistant Dean for Freshman Experience in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. While her doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on higher education teaching of STEM fields, she also holds B.S. and M.A. degrees in Mathematics. Dr. Hensel has over seven years of experience working in engineering teams and in project management and administration as a Mathematician and Computer Systems Analyst for the U. S. Department of Energy as well as more than 25 years of experience teaching mathematics, statistics, computer science, and freshman engineering courses in higher education institutions. Currently, she leads a team of faculty who are dedicated to providing first year engineering students with a high-quality, challenging, and engaging educational experience with the necessary advising, mentoring, and academic support to facilitate their transition to university life and to prepare them for success in their engineering discipline majors and future careers.

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This complete research paper examines the connection between student beliefs about engineering as a profession, as well as the perceptions of their family and friends, to their reported self-efficacy, career expectations, and grittiness. The student responses examined were obtained from non-calculus ready engineering students at a large land grant institution in the Mid-Atlantic region. The students participated in a well-established program focused on cohort formation, mentorship, professional skill development, and fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging in engineering. The program, consisting of a one-week pre-fall bridge experience and two common courses, was founded in 2012 and has been operating with National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM funding since 2016. Students who received S-STEM funded scholarships are required to participate in focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and complete LAESE, MSLQ, and GRIT questionnaires each semester. The researchers applied qualitative coding methods to evaluate student responses from focus groups and one-one-one interviews which were conducted from 2017 to 2019. Questions examined in this paper include: 1) How would you describe an engineer? 2) Please describe what you think an engineer does on a daily basis. 3) What do you think your friends/family think of engineering? 4) What skills or characteristics do you think good engineers have? 5) What types of careers do you believe are filled by degree holding engineers? Student responses on the aforementioned questions were related to the self-efficacy, career expectation, and grit values obtained from the LAESE, MSLQ, and GRIT instruments. The nature of this longitudinal study allows the evolution of student responses to also be examined as they matriculate through their education. Additional analysis was performed to identify themes and numerical trends associated with student populations such as, underrepresented minorities, females, and first-generation college students.

Results of this research are presented in an effort to further highlight the importance of exposure to STEM fields during an individual’s K-12 education, and express how student perceptions, self-efficacy, GRIT, and career expectations evolve over their undergraduate education.

Morris, M. L., & Dygert, J., & Hensel, R. A. (2020, June), How Do Student Perceptions of Engineers and Engineering as a Career Relate to their Self-Efficacy, Career Expectations, and Grittiness? Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34729

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