A comparison of design self-efficacy of mechanical engineering freshmen, sophomores, and seniors
Self-efficacy, a person's belief about their own ability for a particular skill, has been shown to be highly correlated with an individual's accomplishment level. With high self-efficacy, a student will use more cognitive and metacognitive strategies and be more likely to select challenging tasks due to their self-confidence. Upon encountering a problem, an individual with higher self-efficacy is often willing to put in additional effort and is more persistent in solving the problem. The continued effort, persistence, and perseverance will increase the likelihood that the student will be successful in accomplishing their task. Many reports have indicated that more engineers with strong design skills are needed. Self-efficacy is important because it is a large influence on career choice. If the engineering curriculum effectively develops good design engineers, then the design self-efficacies of the students are expected to be high. As the students take additional courses, their beliefs in their abilities to complete engineering design tasks should increase. The design self-efficacy of engineers is hypothesized to be correlated to ideation effectiveness since self-efficacy and accomplishment level are related. The study presented in this paper consisted of freshmen, sophomore, and senior students in the mechanical engineering department at Texas A&M University evaluating themselves with Carberry et al.'s Design Self-Efficacy Instrument and participating in a design activity. The concepts generated in the activity were rated for ideation effectiveness using the metrics of quantity of non-redundant ideas, quality, novelty, and variety of the solutions. Results indicated that the task-specific self-concept scores of self-efficacy, motivation, and outcome expectancy did not change significantly as students progressed through the engineering curriculum, although the level of anxiety was less for the seniors than the sophomores. It was also found that the taskspecific self-concept scores were not accurate predictors of the design ideation abilities of the students. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2013.
author list (cited authors)
Tsenn, J., McAdams, D. A., & Linsey, J. S.