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  1. As part of an overall research program investigating the impact of changes in teaching strategies on students' engineering social cognitions (self-efficacy and outcome expectations), this paper investigates students' confidence in their ability to learn and their instructor's ability to teach across 6 engineering courses. A group of 6 faculty formed a learning community focused on improved teaching strategies for their classes. The faculty chose selected strategies and implemented them in their classes. Surveys asked students to rank their confidence level in "their ability to learn" the specific class material and the instructor's "ability to teach" the class material using a sliding bar scale from 0-100. Surveys were conducted before and after the improvements to the teaching strategies at both the beginning and end of the semesters. The results of the surveys are compared before and after the teaching improvements, beginning to end of semester, per course, online to in-person, and per gender. In summary, the study found that while there was no significant difference in the control group, a decrease in students’ confidence to learn and in their confidence in their instructors’ ability to teach was observed in the treatment group. This decrease was observed in specific courses that changed instructional modes due to Covid. Despite teaching improvements, students’ confidence decreased as they moved through the course material. Further research is needed to explore these findings and their implications for teaching strategies. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 26, 2024
  2. This work-in-progress paper seeks to examine faculty choice of teaching strategies to improve students’ engineering self-efficacy [1], [2] (belief in one’s abilities to successfully accomplish tasks in engineering) as well as their reflections on the effectiveness of the teaching strategy. Increases in self-efficacy have been related to improved academic and career outcomes [3], especially for women in non-traditional fields such as engineering. The goal of the study is to determine simple yet effective strategies that can be implemented in engineering classrooms to improve self-efficacy. Seven engineering faculty members participated in a faculty learning community (FLC), a semester long program to learn about teaching strategies in each of the four areas of self-efficacy; mastery experiences (e.g., active learning, scaffolding), vicarious learning (e.g., guest lectures, peer mentors, group work), social persuasion (e.g., constructive feedback, positive self-talk), and emotional arousal (e.g., test anxiety, building rapport). The faculty then chose and implemented strategies in each of the four areas in one of their engineering courses. Monthly meetings of the FLC during implementation allowed faculty to share their experiences and suggestions for refinements in their teaching strategy. The paper examines the faculty member choice (why they chose to use particular strategies in their course) as well as their reflections on how well the strategy worked (impact on student learning vs ease of implementation). In addition, the paper examines in-class observations and student survey responses to determine if they felt a particular strategy was useful. The research seeks to identify strategies that faculty members chose and are viewed as effective by both the faculty and students. The presentation will seek additional feedback from the wider community on the effectiveness of teaching strategies to improve self-efficacy and future work will include the analysis of additional surveys that were administered to measure student self-efficacy with the goal of determining simple and effective strategies that can be implemented in engineering classrooms. 
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  3. This research evaluates the impact of switching college engineering courses from in-person instruction to emergency remote learning among engineering students at a university in the Midwest. The study aimed to answer the question: What were the concerns and perceived challenges students faced when traditional in-person engineering courses suddenly transitioned to remote learning? The goal of this study is to uncover the challenges students were facing in engineering online courses and to understand students’ concerns. Our findings can help improve teaching instruction to provide students with previously unavailable educational assistance for online engineering courses. We collected online survey responses during weeks 8 and 9 of the academic semester, shortly after the COVID-19 shutdown and emergency transition to remote learning in Spring 2020. The survey included two open-ended questions which inquired about students’ feedback about moving the class online, and one two-item scale which assessed students’ confidence in online engineering learning. Data analysis for the open-ended questions was guided by the theoretical framework - Social Cognitive Career Theory [1] that explores how context, person factors and social cognitions contribute to career goals, interests and actions. A phenomenological approach [2] was conducted to understand the experience of these students. Open coding and axial coding [2] methods were used to create initial categories then themes related to students' concerns and challenges. Data from the two-item scale was evaluated using descriptive statistics: means, standard deviations, and ranges. Four main themes with separate sub-categories emerged from the student responses: 1) Instructor’s ability to teach course online (Instructional limitations, Seeking help, Increased Workload), 2) Student’s ability to learn online (Time Management, Lower engagement and motivation, Harder to absorb material, Hard to focus, Worry about performance), 3) Difficulties outside of class (Technology issues), and 4) No concerns. Students seemed more concerned about their ability to learn the material (48% of responses) than the instructor’s ability to teach the material (36% of responses). The instructional limitations or lack of instructional support (22% of responses) and time management (12% of responses) were among the major concerns in the sub-categories. The results from two-item scale indicated participants' s confidence in their ability to master their classroom knowledge was at an intermediate level via online instruction (6/10), and participants' confidence in the instructor's ability to teach knowledge in online classes is moderate to high (7/10). The results align with the open-ended question response in which students were somewhat more concerned about their ability to learn than the instructor’s ability to teach. The themes and analysis will be a valuable tool to help institutions and instructors improve student learning experiences. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    The outbreak of COVID-19 and sudden transition to remote learning brought many changes and challenges to higher education campuses across the nation. This paper evaluates the impact of the transition to remote learning on the engineering-related social cognitions of self-efficacy (belief in one’s abilities to successfully accomplish tasks in engineering) and outcome expectations (beliefs about the consequences of performing engineering behaviors). These social cognitions can be attributed to important academic and career outcomes, such as the development of STEM interests and goals (Lent et al., 2019) and may be especially important in the success of women in non-traditional fields such as engineering. As an extension to a NSF RIEF (Research Initiation in Engineering Formation) study evaluating engineering social cognitions, students in 8 engineering classes were surveyed at the beginning of Spring 2020 semester (N=224), shortly after the transition to remote learning (N = 190), and at the end of the semester (N=101). The classes surveyed included a common early engineering class at the sophomore level (Engineering Statics) and required junior level courses in different departments. The students were surveyed using reliable and validated instruments to measure engineering self-efficacy (Lent et al. 2005, Frantz et al. 2011), engineering outcome expectations (Lent et al. 2003, Lee et al. 2018), and engineering persistence intentions (Lent et al. 2003). The results show a gradual increase in the mean scores on the engineering self-efficacy and outcome expectation measures through the semester. Two tailed t-tests of matched participants showed no significance when comparing the data between the beginning and mid-semester surveys, as well as the mid-semester and end surveys. However, significance was found in the two engineering self-efficacy measures between the beginning and end of semester surveys. Results are compared across courses at different levels and across gender. Results indicate that despite the sudden change in instructional mode, students’ perceptions of engineering self-efficacy and outcome expectations showed a slight increase or no change. 
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