June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
In order be successful, engineers must ask their clients, coworkers, and bosses questions. Asking questions can improve work quality and make the asker appear smarter. However, people often hesitate to ask questions for fear of seeming incompetent or inferior. This study investigates: what characteristics and experiences are connected to engineering students’ perceptions of asking questions?
We analyzed data from a survey of over a thousand engineering undergraduates across a nationally representative sample of 27 U.S. engineering schools. We focused on three dependent variables: question-asking self-efficacy (how confident students are in their ability to ask a lot of questions), social outcome expectations around asking questions (whether students believe if they ask a lot of questions, they will earn the respect of their colleagues), and career outcome expectations (whether they believe asking a lot of questions will hurt their chances for getting ahead at work).
We were surprised to find that question-asking self-efficacy or outcome expectations did not significantly vary by gender, under-represented minority status, and school size. However, students with high question-asking self-efficacy and outcome expectations were more likely to have engaged in four extracurricular experiences: participating in an internship or co-op, conducting research with a faculty member, participating in a student group, and holding a leadership role in an organization or student group. The number of different types of these extracurricular activities a student engaged in correlated with question-asking self-efficacy and positive outcome expectations around asking questions.
The results illustrate the relationship between extracurricular activities and students’ self-efficacy and behavior outcome expectations. The college experience is more than just formal academic classes. Students learn from experiences that occur after class or during the summer, and ideally these experiences complement class-derived skills and confidence in asking questions.
Pink, S. L., & Rieken, B., & Björklund, T. A., & Sheppard, S. (2017, June), What Makes an Inquisitive Engineer? An Exploration of Question-Asking, Self-Efficacy, and Outcome Expectations among Engineering Students Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29118
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