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Undergraduate Students’ Materials Science and Engineering Self-efficacy: Assessment and Implications

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 1

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1616.1 - 26.1616.13



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Paper Authors


Marian S. Kennedy Clemson University

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

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Natasha Mamaril University of Kentucky

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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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David Ross Economy Clemson University

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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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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 PhD 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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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 in University of Kentucky.

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Julia L. Sharp Clemson University

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Undergraduate Students’ Materials Science and Engineering Self-Efficacy: Assessment and ImplicationsIncreasing engineering students’ persistence in their programs and fields after graduation is a goal of bothacademic institutions and government agencies such as the National Science Foundation. Althoughentrance to academic programs typically relies on accessing the skills and prior achievement of students,some researchers have found that students’ achievement and persistence within engineeringundergraduate programs can be linked to individual students’ beliefs. The purpose of the study was todevelop and validate measures to assess materials science and engineering (MSE) self-efficacy and toidentify the correlation between students’ MSE self-efficacy and their academic achievement.The authors developed 11 self-efficacy items for MSE to cover knowledge normally covered during a onesemester course provided to undergraduates in a range of engineering disciplines. These items wereembedded into a larger online survey containing measures of self-efficacy and perceived value along withdemographic information. Undergraduate engineering students (n = 81) from a southeastern universitywere recruited to complete this pilot survey at two time points. At the beginning of the semester, 81students completed the survey; 31 students completed the survey at end of the semester. As a result of thelow response rate during fall 2013, the authors elected to administer the same survey questions via papersurveys in students’ classrooms during the spring semester of 2014. This approach yielded 247 completedsurveys at the beginning of the semester (93.9% response rate). The majority of responses were receivedfrom Caucasian (82.6%) and male (71.7%) students. Students represented the same majors in varyingproportion: 13.0% bioengineering, 33.2% industrial engineering, 3.2% materials science, 49.8%mechanical engineering, 0.4% general engineering, and 0.4% other. At the end of the semester, 197surveys were completed (74.9% response rate); 186 of those surveys were completed by students whoalso completed the initial survey at the beginning of the term (70.7% response rate for both time points).Data were manually entered, anonymized, and then triple checked for entry errors by separate researchers.Achievement data (final course grades, cumulative grade point average, and engineering specific gradepoint average) were obtained from the university’s office of institutional research and course instructors.Data were cleaned and descriptive statistics were calculated at the item and scale level. Cronbach’s alphawas used to examine internal consistency of the items within each scale. The eleven items included in theMaterials Science and Engineering Self- Efficacy scale were shown to have a Cronbach’s alpha of (0.93)when analyzed using the data collected during spring 2014 (n = 243). Future work will look atunderstanding the relationship between this scale and student achievement outcomes (course grade,cumulative and engineering GPAs).

Kennedy, M. S., & Mamaril, N., & Economy, D. R., & Usher, E. L., & Li, C., & Sharp, J. L. (2015, June), Undergraduate Students’ Materials Science and Engineering Self-efficacy: Assessment and Implications Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24952

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