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Work in Progress: Student Perception of Computer Programming within Engineering Education: An Investigation of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Computers in Education Division Technical Session 4: Digital Learning Part II

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

9

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35683

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35683

Download Count

76

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Paper Authors

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Kelly S. Steelman Michigan Technological University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6491-4547

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Dr. Kelly Steelman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences and an Affiliated Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University.

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Michelle E. Jarvie-Eggart Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Jarvie-Eggart is a registered professional engineer with over a decade of experience as an environmental engineer. She lectures in the Engineering Fundamentals department at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests include online learning, first year learners, sustainability and diversity in engineering.

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Kay L. Tislar Michigan Technological University

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Kay Tislar is a lecturer in psychology at Michigan Technological University.

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Charles Wallace Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Charles Wallace studied Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California before earning his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Michigan. He has been on the faculty of the Michigan Tech Computer Science Department since 2000. His experiences as a computer scientist, linguist, and software developer drive his research exploring how humans can better understand, build, and use software. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Google, Microsoft Research, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dr. Wallace's Agile Communicators project, supported by an NSF IUSE award, seeks to build an enhanced curriculum for computing programs that emphasizes inquiry, critique and reflection, grounded in authentic software development settings. Tools in this project include process oriented guided inquiry learning, automated feedback to students through an intelligent tutoring system, case studies in software communication, and guided reflective exercises on team communication. As part of this research, the Agile Communicators team has investigated communication practices in a variety of student and professional software development environments.

Wallace has been intimately involved with undergraduate Computer Science curriculum development since his arrival in 2000. He cofounded Michigan Tech's Software Engineering degree program in 2003. Wallace currently serves as Director of Undergraduate Programs for the Computer Science Department. In conjunction with his research projects, he has founded local outreach efforts in computer education for middle and high school students and digital literacy for senior citizens.

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Nathan D. Manser Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Manser is a multidisciplinary engineer with over a decade of experience as a mining and environmental engineer. He lectures in the Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences Department at Michigan Technological University. His research interests include engineering education, natural resource management, and sustainable engineering systems.

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Briana C Bettin Michigan Technological University

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Leo C. Ureel II Michigan Technological University

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Leo C. Ureel II is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Michigan Technological University. He has worked extensively in the field of educational software development. His research interests include intelligent learning environments, computer science education and software engineering. He currently has primary responsibility for the introductory programming courses at Michigan Tech.

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Abstract

Although most engineering faculty and professionals view computer programming as an essential part of an undergraduate engineering curriculum, engineering students do not always share this viewpoint. In fact, engineering students—especially those outside of computer and electrical engineering—may not realize the value of computer programming skills until after they have graduated and advanced in their career (Sterian, Dunne, & Blauch, 2005). Failure to find value in computer programming may have negative consequences for learning. Indeed, engineering students who do not view programming as interesting or useful show poorer performance on tests of programming concepts than students who do (Lingar, Williams, and McCord, 2017). This finding is consistent with theories of technology acceptance (e.g., Davis, 1989, Venkatesh, et al., 2003) that emphasize perceived usefulness as a key determinant of attitudes toward a technology and subsequent use or disuse of it. Accordingly, to better support student learning, engineering coursework should include specific interventions that emphasize the utility of programming skills for a career in engineering. Intervention effectiveness, however, may depend in part on the characteristics of the individual learners, including their prior programming experience, their openness to new experiences, and their beliefs about the nature of intelligence. The purpose of the current work is to understand engineering students’ attitudes toward and experiences with computer programming as well as to assess the relationship between their attitudes and experiences and their mindset toward their own intelligence. 101 engineering students participated in the study as part of a general education psychology course. Participants completed a computer language inventory and three surveys. The first survey inquired about students’ computer programming experiences and attitudes (Hoegh and Moskal, 2009). The second survey posed questions related to different aspects of openness to experience (Woo et al., 2014): intellectual efficiency, ingenuity, curiosity, aesthetics, tolerance, and depth. Finally, the third survey probed participants’ beliefs about the nature of intelligence and whether it is fixed or can be developed (Dweck, 1999). This paper will present the results of these surveys and explore the correlations among the various scales. The implications for engineering education interventions will be discussed.

References: Davis, F. D. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS quarterly, 319-340. Dweck, C. (1999). Self-Theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia: Psychology Press. Hoegh, A. and Moskal, B. M. (2009). Examining science and engineering students’ attitudes toward computer science. In FIE'09 Proceedings of the 39th IEEE International Conference on Frontiers in Education Conference, 1306-1311, IEEE Press. Lingar, L., Abbey Williams, D., McCord, R., & Jeldes, I. (2017). Work in progress. Motivation profiles of non-major computer programmers in a flipped classroom environment. In Proceedings of First Year Engineering Experience (FYEE) Conference, American Society for Engineering Education. Sterian, A., Dunne, B., & Blauch, A. (2005, June), The case for computer programming instruction for all engineering disciplines. Paper presented at the 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. https://peer.asee.org/15520 Woo, S. E, Chernyshenko, O. S., Longley, A., Zhang, Zhi-Xue, Chiu, Chi-Yue, & Stark, S. E. (2014). Openness to experience: Its lower level structure, measurement, and cross-cultural equivalence, Journal of Personality Assessment, 96(1), 29-45, DOI: 10.1080/00223891.2013.806328. Venkatesh,V., Morris, M., Davis, G., Davis, F. (2003). User Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified View. MIS Quarterly, 27 (3), 425-478.

Steelman, K. S., & Jarvie-Eggart, M. E., & Tislar, K. L., & Wallace, C., & Manser, N. D., & Bettin, B. C., & Ureel, L. C. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Student Perception of Computer Programming within Engineering Education: An Investigation of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35683

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