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Measuring Students' Subjective Task Values Related to the Post-Undergraduate Career Search

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Life After Graduation

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28657

Download Count

304

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Paper Authors

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Samantha Ruth Brunhaver Arizona State University

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Samantha Brunhaver is an Assistant Professor of Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Dr. Brunhaver 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. In addition, she conducts studies of new engineering pedagogy that help to improve student engagement and understanding.

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Cheryl Carrico P.E. Virginia Tech

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Cheryl Carrico is a Postdoctoral Research faculty member for Virginia Tech. Her current research focus relates to STEM career pathways (K-12 through early career) and conceptual understanding of core engineering principles. Dr. Carrico owns a research and consulting company specializing in research evaluations and industry consulting. Dr. Carrico received her B.S. in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech, Masters of Engineering from North Carolina State University, MBA from King University, and PhD in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Dr. Carrico is a certified project management professional (PMP) and licensed professional engineer (P.E.).

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Holly M. Matusovich Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Matusovich is an Assistant Professor and Assistant Department Head for Graduate Programs in Virginia Tech’s Department of Engineering Education. She has her doctorate in Engineering Education and her strengths include qualitative and mixed methods research study design and implementation. She is/was PI/Co-PI on 8 funded research projects including a CAREER grant. She has won several Virginia Tech awards including a Dean’s Award for Outstanding New Faculty. Her research expertise includes using motivation and related frameworks to study student engagement in learning, recruitment and retention in engineering programs and careers, faculty teaching practices and intersections of motivation and learning strategies. Matusovich has authored a book chapter, 10 journal manuscripts and more than 50 conference papers.

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Mitikaa Sama

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Rohini Abhyankar Arizona State University

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Rohini Abhyankar is a first year graduate student at Arizona State University’s Engineering Education Systems and Design doctoral program. Rohini has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Physics from University of Delhi, India. Rohini has over ten years each of industry and teaching experience.

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Ruth A. Streveler Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Ruth A. Streveler is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Streveler has been the Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator of ten grants funded by the US National Science Foundation. She has published articles in the Journal of Engineering Education and the International Journal of Engineering Education and has contributed to the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research. She has presented workshops to over 500 engineering faculty on four continents. Dr. Streveler’s primary research interests are investigating students’ understanding of difficult concepts in engineering science and helping engineering faculty conduct rigorous research in engineering education. In 2015, Dr. Streveler was inducted as an ASEE Fellow.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2011 Dr. Sheppard was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and recently served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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Abstract

Demand for diverse, well-qualified engineers in the United States is higher than ever, and yet, recent research shows that a majority of engineering undergraduates are undecided about whether to enter the engineering profession, even in the months leading up to graduation. From the engineering education and career development literature, it is known that interest in other fields accounts for some diversion of engineering graduates from engineering careers. Students’ lack of confidence in their ability to obtain and succeed in engineering positions, and other incorrect or misleading assumptions about the engineering career search, are partially responsible as well.

To better understand these issues, a longitudinal, mixed-methods study about engineering students’ career decision-making funded by the National Science Foundation has been undertaken. The study is grounded in Eccles’ expectancy-value theory, which conceptualizes engagement in a task (in this case, the career search) as a function of expectancies of success and four subjective task values: (1) attainment value, the perceived importance of engaging in the task, (2) intrinsic value, the perceived enjoyment of engaging in the task, (3) utility value, the perceived benefit of engaging in the task, and (4) cost value, the perceived consequences of engaging in the task. The focus of this research paper is on the development and validation of survey measures to capture engineering students’ expectancy-value beliefs related to their post-undergraduate career search, whether for jobs and/or graduate school. Such measures could be used by researchers, career services professionals, and educators to identify and address causes of problematic career indecision among engineering undergraduates through targeted interventions.

The expectancy-value measures designed for this study were piloted as part of a survey of 300 engineering juniors and seniors at a large, southwestern public university in August and September of 2016. Exploratory factor analysis with varimax rotation was applied on 27 items which produced six unique factors: two factors related to expectancies of success (expectancies of success for developing plans for one’s career pathway, and expectancies for success for obtaining a post-undergraduate job or graduate school offer) and four factors consistent with the four components of subjective task values in EVT. Of the 27 items, three items related to attainment value and one item related to utility value were modified slightly in the hopes of increasing their respective factor loadings. All 27 items are currently being re-tested in a survey of engineering juniors and seniors at six universities nationwide (expected sample size: 1,500) from September through November of 2016. Results of the exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and reliability analyses for the final data set will be presented in the full paper. Since the study for which these measures were created is longitudinal, plans to include these measures in future models of engineering seniors’ attainment of a first post-undergraduate position will also be discussed.

Brunhaver, S. R., & Carrico, C., & Matusovich, H. M., & Sama, M., & Abhyankar, R., & Streveler, R. A., & Sheppard, S. (2017, June), Measuring Students' Subjective Task Values Related to the Post-Undergraduate Career Search Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28657

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