New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Educational Research and Methods
Anxiety stemming from the challenges faced by engineering students is a strong predictor of academic performance. Such anxiety may lead to compromised student self-efficacy  manifesting itself as reduced motivation, concentration, or reasoning capability . These symptoms often lead to a loss of confidence in engineering abilities and reduced commitment to engineering degree programs, resulting in lower retention . Various studies have been conducted which analyze the direct effects of both academic and non-academic sources of anxiety in engineering programs such as curriculum requirements, academic readiness (e.g. study skills), personality type, and attitudes toward learning  as a means of improving future pedagogical strategies. Less common are studies that investigate the efficacy of timely interventions in response to self-reported vulnerabilities and concerns of engineering students. This paper presents data from practical efforts to identify and mitigate anxiety among these students. A group of twenty-six engineering and engineering technology students who were part of a scholarship program were asked to submit journal entries in which they reflected on their fears and anxieties related to their participation in their degree program. Prominent themes which emerged from student reflection included time management and its effects on academics and social activities, the likelihood of degree completion and success in engineering-specific coursework (e.g. senior capstone projects), and aspects of life following graduation such as handling accumulated debt and finding a job. As a cohort, the students participated in periodic vertically-integrated discussion groups with faculty mentors and their peers at multiple levels of seniority, and were introduced to university resources designed to address specific student needs. Results of a follow-on survey suggested that peer-to-peer discussions can be useful in alleviating anxiety on particular topics. It was also observed that the interactions facilitated by these group discussions are helpful in developing a sense of community and shared enthusiasm among the cohort.
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Yanik, P. M., & Yan, Y., & Kaul, S., & Ferguson, C. W. (2016, June), Sources of Anxiety among Engineering Students: Assessment and Mitigation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25845
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