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Self-Efficacy in Senior Design: Effects of Time and Team

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Elif Miskioglu Bucknell University

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Elif Miskioglu is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University. She graduated from Ohio State University in 2015 with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and is interested in student learning in engineering.

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Much of traditional curriculum is designed around individual assessment, but throughout their career most engineers are more likely to be assessed as part of a team. Having studied self-efficacy and learning styles in sophomore students for several semesters and noticing trends that may be explained by their early stage in career (e.g., lack of confidence in conceptual problems), we began to consider the status of our graduating senior students. Are they entering the workforce with high self-efficacy and a command of chemical engineering theory and design principles?

Using a modified version of the Carberry et al. instrument for design self-efficacy, we tracked student self-efficacy throughout their senior design experience. Three self-efficacy surveys were administered: one early in the term while students were working on an individual project, one in the mid-semester while students were balancing an individual project with a team project, and a final one at the end-of-semester when only a final team project remained. This three project structure, two individual and one team, allowed us to examine both the design experiences and team effects on student self-efficacy.

A wide number of self-efficacy gains suggest that students’ self-efficacy is positively affected by our senior design class. Patterns of self-efficacy gains indicate that there may be a time-dependent variable that affects the development of students’ self-efficacy. A higher number of observed self-efficacy gains between surveys 1 and 2 suggests that the steeper learning curve during the first half of the course may allow for high gains in self-efficacy. Students are thrust in a course that expects expert level results, but have very little design experience prior. This simple fact may have a greater influence on self-efficacy than team dynamics as fewer gains were observed between survey 2 and 3. Between surveys 1 and 2, and surveys 2 and 3, students gained confidence in conducting design, and evaluating and testing a design. The continual increase in self-efficacy toward these items throughout the term promotes the value of both individual and team projects in assisting with the development of self-efficacy. Between surveys 2 and 3 (project focus was at this point entirely team-based), students’ self-efficacy with respect to selecting the best possible design showed statistically significant gains. Student confidence in making important decisions such as design selection may increase when discussed among and validated by a team.

A better understanding of students’ self-efficacy maturation during the senior design experience will allow for development of an improved senior design course, and closer inspection of prerequisite courses may allow for development of a more integrated and effective curriculum.

Miskioglu, E. (2016, June), Self-Efficacy in Senior Design: Effects of Time and Team Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26157

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