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Scale Development For Engineering Modeling Self Efficacy

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Student Attitudes and Perceptions

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1050.1 - 15.1050.20



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Paper Authors

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Tuba Yildirim University of Pittsburgh

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Mary Besterfield-Sacre University of Pittsburgh

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Larry Shuman University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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

An Engineering Modeling Self-Efficacy (EMSE) Scale


Self-efficacy is defined as personal judgments of one’s capabilities to organize and execute courses of action to attain designated goals. Self-efficacy is shown to be a significant predictor of academic performance, academic motivation, students’ participation in activities, rate of solution of arithmetic problems, and use of learning strategies. Students with high self-efficacy are likely to deal better with the challenges they face and develop strategies to solve them compared to students with low self-efficacy. In engineering education, there is a growing interest in self- efficacy due to its relationship to learning and future success.

Modeling is a fundamental aspect of engineering that is used to address complex problems. Particularly in engineering, modeling requires a process of abstraction where only the important details are represented via tools such as mathematical and computational languages. In the context of modeling, self-efficacy corresponds to one’s perception of his or her modeling capabilities. When students are working on a modeling task, they normally encounter challenges resulting in iterations and updates to their solution methodology (process). A student with high levels of self-efficacy should, in theory, persist longer in modeling iterations and perform better in creation of conceptual and calculational models. In contrast, low self-efficacy may inhibit the student’s effort even when the skill is present leading to discouragement.

A common approach to measure self-efficacy, particularly in the context of student work, has been to ask students to what extent they believe they can perform a certain task. However, as self-efficacy is task dependent and there is no common single method to measure it, we propose that a separate scale needs to be developed for modeling. This is particularly true for engineering students; as how self-efficacy beliefs impact their modeling abilities remains largely unknown.

In this study, we create an instrument to measure self-efficacy for modeling based on previous self-efficacy scales created for engineering design. The design scale was chosen for several reasons. First, it was developed for measuring self-efficacy of engineers specific to an important engineering capability. Second, it is a tested scale with high content and construct validity. In developing our modeling scale, we have used a similar approach: the subtasks of the modeling process are identified and listed and then students are asked how capable they believe they are in carrying each task. We have tested the scale using data from undergraduate engineering students. This paper serves as the first report of the results.

Introduction Suppose two engineering students were given the same problem of creating a model of how the light switch works: one was able to do it, and the other could not. You observe that both students

Yildirim, T., & Besterfield-Sacre, M., & Shuman, L. (2010, June), Scale Development For Engineering Modeling Self Efficacy Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16033

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