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Sources of Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate Engineering

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Self-efficacy and Emotion: ERM Roundtable

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

18

Page Numbers

26.1386.1 - 26.1386.18

DOI

10.18260/p.24723

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/24723

Download Count

54

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Paper Authors

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Ellen L Usher University of Kentucky

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Ellen L. Usher is an associate professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Kentucky. She received her Ph.D. in educational studies from Emory University in 2007. Her research has focused on the sources and effects of personal efficacy beliefs. She is the director of the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab.

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Natasha Aniceto Mamaril University of Illinois

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Natasha Mamaril is currently the Coordinator of Undergraduate Research in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include assessment of motivation and how motivation affects student learning. Her education includes a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of the Philippines, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Educational Psychology from the University of Kentucky. She also has nine years of industry experience.

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Caihong Li University of Kentucky

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Caihong Li is a second year master student in Educational Psychology. Her research interest lies in psychometric studies, STEM education, and self-efficacy and sources of efficacy beliefs in adolescents and college students. She is a member of the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab at the University of Kentucky.

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David Ross Economy Clemson University Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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D. R. Economy is currently a doctoral candidate within the Clemson University Department of Materials Science & Engineering and completed his certificate in Engineering & Science Education in 2013. He has completed his M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering and B.S. in Ceramic & Materials Engineering both at Clemson University. His current research interests include reliability of metallic coatings, small-scale mechanics in multicomponent systems, and student motivation in engineering classrooms.

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Marian S. Kennedy Clemson University

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M.S. Kennedy is an Associate Professor within the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at Clemson University. Her research group focused on the mechanical and tribological characterization of thin films, coatings and biological materials. She also contributes to the engineering education community through her research on self-efficacy and undergraduate research programs.

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Abstract

Sources of Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate Engineering Researchers have shown that self-efficacy, the beliefs students’ hold about theircapabilities to perform given tasks, can influence students’ effort, achievement, and successfulmatriculation in school. Efforts have been made in the engineering community to examine self-efficacy in relationship to undergraduate engineering and persistence. The purpose of this studyis to examine how the engineering students form their efficacy beliefs. We investigateengineering students’ efficacy-relevant experiences to better understand the ways in which self-efficacy develops and the factors that students consider to be most influential. We also examinewhether men and women report similar sources of self-efficacy, as has been found in relatedwork. Undergraduate engineering students (N = 244) from two research-intensive universities inthe southeastern U.S. completed an online survey during the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semestersdesigned to assess beliefs about engineering. Participants responded to five open-endedquestions to identify events that affected their engineering confidence, people who encouraged orinspired them to be engineers, and to explain their feelings about doing engineering work.Responses were initially analyzed using codes based on the four theorized sources of self-efficacy: mastery experience, vicarious experience, social persuasion, and physiological states.First-level coding was used to summarize data; pattern coding was used to group summaries intospecific themes or constructs. Response patterns were then analyzed in terms of similarity,difference, and correspondence for men and women. Data were cross-checked by tworesearchers to ensure inter-rater reliability above .90. Engineering students described mastery experiences as the most common source of theirconfidence in their engineering skills followed by social persuasions. Students’ achievement inschool, such as obtaining good grades and passing engineering-related courses, boosted theirbeliefs in their abilities to pursue their engineering degrees. Students also mentioned receivingpositive messages from professionals, such as professors and mentors. Even the simple gestureof having friends ask for their help on engineering assignments boosted students’ confidence intheir engineering abilities. Vicarious experience via exposure to engineers, particularly those who were familymembers, influenced students’ beliefs that they could become engineers. Exposure toengineering through print material or television media was considered less influential. Exposureto positive role models increased students’ confidence in their abilities to succeed. Althoughstudents reported experiencing physiological states such as stress when doing tasks related toengineering, many described invigorating positive feelings about accomplishing engineeringtasks. This finding suggests that although students may find engineering challenging, theirperceived efficacy might benefit from the positive emotions they feel when engaged in theirwork. Men and women generally reported similar sources of engineering self-efficacy, contraryto findings reported elsewhere in related science, technology, and mathematics disciplines. Findings from this study complement previous research on the sources of engineeringself-efficacy by expanding the investigation to upper-level students with diverse majors andtailoring survey questions to specific types of information known to influence perceived efficacy(e.g. exposure to models who were engineers). Implications for creating efficacy-buildingexperiences related to engineering in K-12 and undergraduate education are discussed.

Usher, E. L., & Mamaril, N. A., & Li, C., & Economy, D. R., & Kennedy, M. S. (2015, June), Sources of Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24723

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: © 2015 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