Are there differences in engineering self-efficacy between minority and majority students across academic levels?


Despite the efforts of countless dedicated individuals, progress in attracting and retaining minorities in engineering has been slow. The students who are attracted are rarely retained. In 2007, the retention to graduation rate for minority students was 37.8% compared to 46.1% for majority students, nationally8. Something happens between the minority engineering students' freshman year and the point they decide to either switch their major or drop-out of school altogether. Do minority students feel included in their courses and labs? Do their expectations of what will happen upon graduating with an engineering degree change at some point? These questions are in fact related to their engineering self-efficacy. Engineering self-efficacy is a person's belief that he/she can successfully navigate the engineering curriculum and eventually become a practicing engineer. Increasing engineering self-efficacy could potentially improve persistence and sense of belonging for minority students in engineering. This paper compares self-efficacy constructs of minority and majority engineering students at a predominantly white institution and examines similarities and differences across academic levels. The factors that may be significant in predicting minority student persistence and sense of belonging in engineering are also explored. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.

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ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

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