Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Ed Psychology and Research
Martin H Jones
Christian E Mueller
Vicki Sallis Murrell
This cross-sectional study used exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to validate the underlying theoretical 4-factor construct of Schommer's Epistemological Questionnaire (SEQ). The EFA solution failed to fit Schommer's construct. As a result, reliable scales were then determined and used to assess 518 engineering students' epistemological beliefs across educational levels. Further, this study compared the beliefs of 90 African American engineering students at aHistorically Black University (HBCU) to those of 56 African American engineering students at two Predominantly White Institutions (PWI). Results indicated that Underclassmen were significantly more likely than Upperclassmen to have beliefs in Quick Learning over and above the effects of students' background characteristics and institutional type. Background characteristics significantly predicted beliefs in Quick Learning, Fixed Ability, and Simple Knowledge. Male students, students attending the HBCU, and students belonging to ethnic groups other than African American and European American were more likely to have Quick Learning beliefs. Furthermore, male students were more likely to have beliefs in Fixed Ability, and African American students were more likely to have beliefs in Simple Knowledge. No significant differences in epistemological beliefs were found between the African American engineering students at the HBCU and the African American engineering students at the two PWIs. However, being a graduate student, having a below average high school GPA, and having an above average high school GPA significantly predicted beliefs in Quick Learning for African American engineering students attending the PWIs. Also, being a graduate student and having an above average high school GPA significantly predicted beliefs in Fixed Ability for African American engineering students attending the PWIs. Finally, being an African American Upperclassmen at the HBCU predicted sophisticated beliefs in Simple Knowledge. This study contributes to engineering education research with conclusions that epistemological beliefs did indeed become more sophisticated as students progressed through college and African American engineering students' epistemological beliefs were not necessarily influenced by campus racial composition. In order to fully understand epistemological beliefs as related to engineering students' development and experience, further research is needed to compare the engineering classroom environment at both HBCUs and PWIs.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
King, Bethany Alana, "Epistemological Beliefs of Engineering Students: A Comparison of Educational Levels and Institutional Type" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 185.