Instructional design considerations promoting engineering design self-efficacy

Andrew M Jackson, Purdue University


Engineering design activities are frequently included in technology and engineering classrooms. These activities provide an open-ended context for practicing critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and innovation—collectively part of the 21st Century Skills which are increasingly needed for success in the workplace. Self-efficacy is a perceptual belief that impacts learning and behavior. It has been shown to directly impact each of these 21st Century Skills but its relation to engineering design is only recently being studied. The purpose of this study was to examine how instructional considerations made when implementing engineering design activities might affect student self-efficacy outcomes in a middle school engineering classroom. Student responses to two self-efficacy inventories related to design, the Engineering Design Self-Efficacy Instrument and Creative Thinking Self-Efficacy Inventory, were collected before and after participation in an engineering design curriculum. Students were also answered questions on specific factors of their experience during the curriculum which teachers may exhibit control over: teamwork and feedback. Results were analyzed using Pearson’s correlation coefficients, paired and independent t-tests, and structural equation modeling to better understand patterns for self-efficacy beliefs in students. Results suggested that design self-efficacy and creative thinking self-efficacy are significantly correlated, r(1541) = .783, p < .001, and increased following participation in a design curriculum, M diff = 1.32, t(133) = 7.60, p < .001 and Mdiff = 0.79, t(124) = 4.19, p < .001 respectively. Structural models also showed that students perceive team inclusion and feedback as significant contributors to their self-efficacy beliefs, while team diversity was not related to self-efficacy. Separate models for each predictor demonstrated good fit. Recommendations are made based on the corresponding nature of engineering design self-efficacy and creative thinking self-efficacy: strategies encouraging self-efficacy in these domains may be transferrable. Instructors are made aware of the significant impact of classroom strategies for increasing self-efficacy and given specific recommendations related to teamwork and feedback to support students. Finally, although there were weaknesses in the study related to the survey administration, future research opportunities are presented which may build from this work.




Mentzer, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Engineering|Science education

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