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You Might (or Might Not) Know More Than You Thought: Student Self-Perception vs. Performance in First Year Engineering Graphics and Programming

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2017 FYEE Conference


Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication Date

August 6, 2017

Start Date

August 6, 2017

End Date

August 8, 2017

Conference Session

Issues in the First Year - Focus on Self-Efficacy

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FYEE Division - Paper Submission

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Natalie C.T. Van Tyne Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16

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Natalie Van Tyne is an Associate Professor of Practice at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she teaches first year engineering design as a foundation course for Virginia Tech's undergraduate engineering degree programs. She holds bachelors and masters degrees from Rutgers University, Lehigh University and Colorado School of Mines, and studies best practices in pedagogy, reflective learning and critical thinking as aids to enhanced student learning.

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You Might (or Might Not) Know More Than You Thought: Student Self-Perception vs. Performance in First Year Engineering Graphics and Programming

Students’ perceptions of their abilities in fundamental engineering skills such as graphics and computer programming may be influenced by their familiarity with these skills, as well as their assessment of how well they were able to perform them upon exposure and practice. While some students may believe in or doubt their ability to master these skills, others possess a sufficient level of confidence and persistence to overcome any doubt about their current or future ability. The similarity between belief in one’s ability to acquire a particular skill (self-efficacy), and the belief that one can be successful (self-confidence) may also lead some students to conclude that they can’t become “good” at something if they can’t be successful at it on the first or second attempt. This is likely to be due to their limited amount of exposure to and experience with a particular engineering skill, such as graphics or computer programming. The results of a beginning of semester survey of students’ current abilities in engineering graphics and computer programming were compared to their homework assignment and test grades in engineering graphics and computer programming. The graphics unit consisted of four weeks of manual drafting followed by four weeks of computer-aided drawing (CAD) with Autodesk Inventor. The programming unit, lasting six weeks, consisted of review and expansion of MatLab skills and tools. The first year engineering design course in which this study took place is taught at a large multipurpose university in the eastern United States, in sections of 30 students each. In the survey, students offered feedback enabling us to code their current ability in graphics and programming, respectively, as Beginner, Average or Expert, depending on their previous experience in these skill areas and attitudes toward them. The distribution for current graphics ability was approximately 30% Beginner, 40% Average and 30% Expert. For programming, the distribution was approximately 35% Beginner, 45% Average and 20% Expert. When each student’s survey results were compared to their combined homework and test percentage grades in graphics and in programming, we found that students with prior experience usually earned higher grades on graphics homework and tests than those with no experience. However, prior experience with MatLab did not guarantee success in our programming unit, and prior experience with Java, C++ or Python, without MatLab, yielded mixed results at best.

Van Tyne, N. C. (2017, August), You Might (or Might Not) Know More Than You Thought: Student Self-Perception vs. Performance in First Year Engineering Graphics and Programming Paper presented at 2017 FYEE Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida.

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