June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Women in Engineering
12.1262.1 - 12.1262.16
Self Efficacy of Women Engineering Students: Three Years of Data at U.S. Institutions
Abstract This paper describes the results of three years of engineering self-efficacy data collected from engineering students at five institutions across the U.S. Results indicate that while students show positive progress on some self–efficacy and related subscales, they show a decrease on isolation subscale from the first to second measurement period. It is also notable that there are almost no gender differences and that self efficacy seems to be related to participation in extracurricular activities and student plans to persist in the degree.
Background Self-efficacy has been found to be an important factor in the success of women studying engineering 1,2.Although efficaciousness applies to any situation, it is particularly important in choosing and executing constructive actions in situations that are perceived as negative or a barrier to success (e.g. lack of a meaningful role in a team project). Given that women are generally under-represented in engineering classrooms, a strong sense of efficacy can help them to persist in such situations.
This paper reports on three years of engineering self-efficacy data collected from male and female engineering students at five institutions across the United States. The third year of data includes male respondents who are compared to their female counterparts. We measured self- efficacy via the LAESE survey instrument (longitudinal assessment of engineering self-efficacy; see AWEonline.org).
Self-efficacy and Engineering Self-Efficacy
Self-efficacy is an extensively researched psychological construct grounded in social cognitive theory. Self-efficacy, as defined by Albert Bandura 3 “refers to beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments” (Bandura 4, p.3). Bandura 3 claims that self-efficacy determines “the courses of action people choose to pursue, how much effort they put forth in given endeavors, how long they will persevere in the face of obstacles and failures, their resilience to adversity, whether their thought patterns are self- hindering or self-aiding, how much stress and depression they experience in coping with taxing environmental demands, and the level of accomplishments they realize.” (p. 3) In fact, a substantial amount of research is available to support these claims. Most relevant to women in engineering is the prolific research on self-efficacy beliefs in relation to academic achievement 4 and to career choice 6. The self-efficacy research literature makes a convincing case that a strong sense of self-efficacy is integral to all students’ entry and persistence in engineering. Self- efficacy is hypothesized to come from four sources – two being more influential than the others. The most influential are mastery and vicarious experiences; social (including verbal) persuasion and physiological states (e.g. eliminating fear reactions can improve efficacy).
The term “self-efficacy” is often used interchangeably with several others, notably “confidence”. Understanding the differences in these words is important in accurately interpreting the research
Marra, R., & Bogue, B., & Rodgers, K., & Shen, D. (2007, June), Self Efficacy Of Women Engineering Students ? Three Years Of Data At U.S. Institutions Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1534
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