skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Schar, M."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. This research explores the intersection of mindfulness and engineering education. Among the reported benefits of mindfulness are enhanced cognitive flexibility, improved concentration, and increased emotional intelligence. These characteristics may be beneficial to engineers as they tackle increasingly complex and interdisciplinary challenges. This research looks at trait mindfulness of 75 students in an introductory engineering course. Results show that mindfulness correlates with business skills self-efficacy (including interpersonal skills) but not with mechanics self-efficacy or final grade. There is also a correlation between mindfulness and the intent to pursue a career in a small company or in an entrepreneurial start-up company. Implications of this research suggest that mindfulness-based classroom activities may help broaden the engineering education experience. (This paper earned the FiE Dasher Best Paper Award.)
  2. Engineering has a long history of developing solutions to meet societal needs, and humanity currently faces many and varied societal challenges. Who are the engineering students motivated to address such challenges? This study explores a sample of 5,819 undergraduate engineering students from a survey administered in 2015 to a nationally representative set of twenty-seven U.S. engineering schools. The survey was developed to study the background, learning experiences, academic activities and proximal influences that motivate an engineering undergraduate student to pursue innovative work post-graduation. As part of this survey students indicated their interest in pursuing work that addresses societal challenges. A step-wise regression analysis is used to predict interest in societal impact and by contrast interest in financial potential with respect to 71 demographic, background and academic experience variables. The results confirm previous studies – a large majority of engineering undergraduates are interested in impact-driven work with an over-representation of female and under-represented minority students. This study sheds new light on the background and academic experiences that predict interest in impact-driven as compared to financially-driven engineering work. It is found that experiences promoting a service ethic and broadening oneself outside of engineering are important predictors of interest in impact-driven work. Whatmore »is less expected is the significant importance of innovation interests and innovation self-efficacy for engineering students interested in creating societal impact. Deeper exploration reveals that certain academic experiences and proximal influences have a direct and significant effect on a student’s interest in impact-driven work, and this relationship is strengthened by the partial mediation of innovation self-efficacy. As such, this study suggests that the development of innovation self-efficacy is important in cultivating engineering students who are interested in impact-driven work, and to a lesser extent, financially-driven work. These findings have implications for how engineering educators and employers attract, inspire, and equip future engineers, particularly female and under-represented minority students.« less
  3. When survey time is limited, education researchers may be faced with the choice of using an extremely brief measure of innovativeness or using no measure at all. To meet the need for a very brief measure, a 5-item innovation self-efficacy (ISE.5) scale was developed using the 19- item Dyer et al. Innovative Behavior Scale (IBS) as a starting point, adapted for undergraduate engineering students, and then condensed using confirmatory factor analysis. The ISE.5 measures innovation self-efficacy as a unitary construct drawn from Dyer et al.’s five innovative behavior components (Questioning, Observing, Experimenting, Networking Ideas and Associational Thinking) and has good internal and external validity as well as good test-retest reliability. The ISE.5 (as a measure of innovation self-efficacy) is shown to be an important mediator between innovation interests and a desire to pursue innovative work as a career postgraduation. This mediator relationship is consistent among important sub-populations of engineering students such as females, underrepresented minorities and first generation college students. While not a substitute for a full multi-factor innovation assessment tool, the ISE.5 can serve as an important indicator of innovation self-efficacy among an undergraduate engineering student population.
  4. An open, receptive, and curious (mindful) mindset is often cited as important in innovation. Yet, engineering education typically focuses on narrow analytical training at the expense of fostering expansive thinking. To specifically explore the relationship between a mindful attitude (open, receptive, curious) and innovation, we examined the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and innovation self-efficacy in a sample of 1,460 engineering students and recent graduates who completed the Engineering Majors Survey. Using social cognitive theory to frame our analysis, we found that a mindful attitude is correlated with innovation self-efficacy and that students with a highly mindful attitude tend to participate in learning experiences related to design and innovation. These results lay the groundwork for how mindfulness may promote foundational skills for successful entrepreneurship such as innovation, learning, and motivation.
  5. This research paper presents the results of a study that uses multivariate models to explore the relationships between participation in learning experiences, innovation self-efficacy, and engineering task self-efficacy. Findings show that many engineering students participated in learning experiences that are typically associated with engineering education, such as taking a shop class or engineering class in high school (47%), taking a computer science (81%) or design/prototyping (72%) class as an undergraduate, working in an engineering environment as an intern (56%), or attending a career related event during college (75%). Somewhat surprisingly, given the rigors of an engineering curriculum, a significant number of students participated in an art, dance, music, theater, or creative writing class (55%), taken a class on leadership topics (47%), and/or participated in student clubs outside of engineering (44%) during college. There also were important differences in rates of participation by gender, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority status, and first generation college student status. Overall prediction of engineering task self-efficacy and innovation self-efficacy was relatively low, with a model fit of these learning experiences predicting engineering task self-efficacy at (adjusted r2 of) .200 and .163 for innovation self-efficacy. Certain patterns emerged when the learning experiences were sorted by Bandura’s Sources ofmore »Self-Efficacy. For engineering task self-efficacy, higher participation in engineering mastery and vicarious engineering experiences was associated with higher engineering task self-efficacy ratings. For the development of innovation self-efficacy, a broader range of experiences beyond engineering experiences was important. There was a strong foundation of engineering mastery experiences in the innovation self-efficacy model; however, broadening experiences beyond engineering, particularly in the area of leadership experiences, may be a factor in innovation selfefficacy. These results provide a foundation for future longitudinal work probing specific types of learning experiences that shape engineering students’ innovation goals. They also set the stage for comparative models of students’ goals around highly technical engineering work, which allows us to understand more deeply how “innovation” and “engineering” come together in the engineering student experience.« less