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Investigation of Pre-Service Teacher Self-Efficacy for Teaching Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Teacher Attitudes, Beliefs, & Self-efficacy

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Jessica Lauren Sargent Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jessica Sargent was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her B.S. in Polymer & Fiber Engineering from Auburn University and her M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University. Jessica is currently a graduate student at Purdue University working with the Women in Engineering Program and pursuing a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering.

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Beth M. Holloway Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Beth Holloway is the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Engagement and the Leah H. Jamieson Director of the Women in Engineering Program (WIEP) in the College of Engineering at Purdue University. She is the current past chair of the Women in Engineering Division of ASEE. Holloway received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue University.

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Susan R. Bayley Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Anna Veronica Walter Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Since the inception of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, many in the education community have made a concerted effort to incorporate engineering design into the K-12 curriculum with the hope of teaching students to be better problem solvers and providing a way for under-represented groups (e.g., females) to more easily engage with science and engineering. Unfortunately, K-12 teachers have little to no formal training in engineering design in their pre-service education. Consequently, many K-12 teachers exhibit low self-efficacy (i.e., the belief in one’s ability to succeed) in teaching engineering.

Studies have shown that the beliefs that teachers hold can impact the beliefs and performance of their students. It has also been documented that pre-service and in-service elementary teachers, particularly female, have low self-efficacy in the fields of science and technical design. It could be expected then that low self-efficacy in female teachers may have a large negative impact on female students.

This pilot study incorporated six female pre-service elementary teachers into an elementary engineering summer outreach program in a manner through which self-efficacy could be measured and developed. In order to employ the primary mechanisms through which self-efficacy is developed (i.e., mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological feedback), pre-service teachers participated in a training session, classroom observations, and personal leading of engineering activities. Three quantitative instruments (the Design, Engineering, and Technology (DET) survey, STEM Semantics survey, and Teaching Engineering Self-efficacy Scale (TESS)), were administered before training, at several intermediary points, and at the program’s conclusion to assess changes in self-efficacy and perceptions of STEM education.

Through this combination of instruments, we were able to quantitatively observe significant overall increases in the pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy, positive perception of engineers, and enthusiasm for implementing design, engineering, and technology in their classrooms. We believe the combined impact of these factors could engender a paradigm shift for teachers. Clearly, higher self-efficacy should lead to more confident and effective teaching of STEM concepts. However, the benefits may extend well beyond implementation in the curriculum.

We believe that many female students could be discouraged from developing and pursuing interests in engineering by the attitudes, low self-efficacy in STEM subjects, and narrow perceptions of engineers of their elementary teachers. If K-12 teachers gain a more positive perception of engineers and a greater enthusiasm for and confidence in implementing DET in their classroom, we believe they may also be more likely to encourage a student’s interest and potential for engineering, and be able to more effectively encourage students to pursue their STEM interests. Improving female teacher self-efficacy for STEM education could play a key part in encouraging and leading more women to future careers in engineering.

Sargent, J. L., & Holloway, B. M., & Bayley, S. R., & Walter, A. V. (2018, June), Investigation of Pre-Service Teacher Self-Efficacy for Teaching Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30729

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