Measuring Undergraduate Students' Engineering Self-Efficacy: A Validation Study

Natasha A. Mamaril, Ellen L. Usher, Caihong R. Li, D. Ross Economy, Marian S. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Self-efficacy has been shown to be positively related to undergraduate engineering students' achievement. Designing self-efficacy measures to assess the multifaceted skills required of engineers could improve the predictive relationship between efficacy beliefs and performance. Purpose: This study evaluates the factor structure, validity, and reliability of general and skill-specific engineering self-efficacy measures created for use with undergraduate engineering students. Design/Method: Self-efficacy items used for the measures were created and adapted from those used previously. Survey responses were collected from engineering students attending two southeastern universities. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used to determine factor structure. Multiple regression analyses examined the relationship between engineering self-efficacy and academic achievement and intent to persist in engineering, both uniquely and when considering other motivation variables. Results: Factor analysis results suggested two self-efficacy scales. The General Engineering Self-Efficacy Scale is unidimensional; the Engineering Skills Self-Efficacy Scale is multidimensional with three factors representing experimental skills, tinkering skills, and design. General engineering self-efficacy predicted academic achievement, even when prior achievement was controlled. Students' intrinsic value in engineering predicted their intentions to persist in the engineering profession. Conclusions: We found evidence for the reliability, validity, and predictive utility of the engineering self-efficacy scales. These scales can be used to assess undergraduate students' beliefs in their capabilities to perform tasks in their coursework and future roles as engineers and to investigate the association between self-efficacy and academic outcomes of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-395
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Volume105
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 ASEE.

Keywords

  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Persistence
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social cognitive theories
  • Undergraduate education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering

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