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Shaping The Self Efficacy Beliefs Of First Year Engineering Students: What Is The Role We Play?

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Knowing Students: Diversity & Retention

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1113.1 - 10.1113.12



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Paper Authors

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George Bodner

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Deborah Follman

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Mica Hutchison

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

Shaping the Self-Efficacy Beliefs of First-Year Engineering Students: What is the Role We Play?

Mica A. Hutchison, Deborah K. Follman, and George M. Bodner

Purdue University


Numerous studies have linked undergraduate students’ interests, performance, and retention in science and engineering fields to self-efficacy. The research also suggests that female science and engineering students have poorer self-efficacy beliefs, those beliefs about their capabilities to perform the tasks necessary to achieve a desired outcome, than do their male counterparts. This study is aimed at identifying factors related to students’ self-efficacy beliefs during their first engineering course. Results are presented from a mid-semester survey administered to freshman engineering students (n = 1387) enrolled in ENGR 106, Engineering Problem-Solving and Computer Tools, at Purdue University. The survey incorporated qualitative measures of student self-efficacy beliefs. Open-ended survey questions prompted students to list those factors affecting their confidence in their ability to succeed in the course. Gender trends emerged in student responses to factors that affect confidence in success. These trends are discussed in light of the four categories Bandura1 has identified as sources of self- efficacy beliefs: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasions, and physiological states. The results presented here provide a useful look into how the classroom and curricular practices being employed during students’ first year in engineering affect confidence, and ultimately, retention and success.


Currently, the fields of science and engineering are faced with two major challenges in producing the necessary workforce for the future: recruiting students to the fields and then retaining those who do enroll through the completion of their degrees. Significant steps are now being taken to increase interest in these fields and boost enrollments of students into related programs. Science and engineering programs must also modify the learning environment to retain more students than they currently do if the demands for the workforce of the future are to be met. National trends show that the retention rate of women in these fields varies from 30 to 46 percent, depending on the size and type of institution studied, while, for their male counterparts, rates vary from 39 to 61 percent.2 These data indicate that retention is poor on the whole, but also that the problem is more significant among women.

The occurrence of poor retention in science and engineering fields has already become the focus of numerous studies. Results of these studies have linked the efficacy beliefs of undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs “Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005. American Society for Engineering Education”

Bodner, G., & Follman, D., & Hutchison, M. (2005, June), Shaping The Self Efficacy Beliefs Of First Year Engineering Students: What Is The Role We Play? Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14718

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015