June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Educational Research and Methods
11.1112.1 - 11.1112.14
Self-Efficacy Beliefs of First-Year Engineering Students: In Their Own Words
Numerous studies have used quantitative self-efficacy measures to predict the choices, achievement, and interests of undergraduate engineering students. Self-efficacy theorists, however, argue that a discovery-oriented, qualitative approach is required to better understand the sources and cognitive processing of students’ self-efficacy beliefs - their beliefs about their abilities to complete the tasks that they deem necessary to achieve a desired outcome. This study has therefore employed qualitative measures to investigate the self-efficacy beliefs of first-year engineering students enrolled in ENGR 106, Engineering Problem-Solving and Computer Tools, at Purdue University. Here, findings based on the phenomenographical analysis of one-on-one interviews with nine students enrolled in the course in the fall of 2004 are presented. These findings provide insight into how aspects of the course environment influence the formation of first-year engineering students’ efficacy beliefs. Results demonstrate the susceptibility of first- year engineering students’ self-efficacy beliefs to the influence of social comparisons. Descriptions of how students make social comparisons, including the logical progression from a specific experience through the modification of confidence in success, are offered.
As engineering educators become increasingly aware of the demand for a diverse engineering workforce of the future, retention issues plaguing the field have drawn added attention. Focus has therefore been placed on the choices, achievement, and interests of undergraduate engineering students. Researchers have suggested that students’ choices to pursue and persist in engineering, and their achievement and interest in the field, are significantly influenced by their engineering self-efficacy beliefs – their confidence in their abilities to perform the tasks that they deem necessary to succeed in the field.1, 2
The richness of the literature surrounding the assessment of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students’ self-efficacy beliefs and the relationship of those beliefs to persistence, 3-10 achievement, 3, 4, 11, 12 and interest3, 11-14 in the fields is in stark contrast to the lack of investigation into the heuristics with which students form specific efficacy beliefs. The literature has provided educators with reliable efficacy assessment tools1, 15, 16 and clear descriptions of the predictive power in the link between positive self-efficacy beliefs and increased persistence, achievement, and interest. This important body of research has made possible the identification of students who are likely to struggle in the face of obstacles and potentially leave the field of engineering. These students are the most important audiences for intervention strategies. The development of successful intervention strategies relies on understanding what can be done to promote positive self-efficacy beliefs among students, however, there is little research to draw from in this area. The first step towards addressing this issue entails explaining how students arrive at their efficacy beliefs.
Hutchison, M., & Follman, D., & Bodner, G. (2006, June), Self Efficacy Beliefs Of First Year Engineering Students: In Their Own Words Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/785
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