Measuring self-efficacy in engineering courses - Impact of learning style preferences

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Electrical Engineering, Curriculum & Instruction


Self-efficacy is an important outcome of engineering education as it relates to students' feelings, thoughts, motivations and behaviors. The key element of self-efficacy construct is a self-belief in one's abilities and has been described in detail in terms of Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory. Measuring self-efficacy of students in engineering courses is an important element of evaluating the overall effectiveness of engineering education. Traditional methods of judging student learning outcomes include quizzes, homework, exams, and course projects, with a primary focus on measuring student skills. It is important that, along with mastering the skills, students should also possess self-belief that they will be able to perform required tasks with those skills. An important research question is: How should self-efficacy be measured in engineering courses? This paper addresses this question by highlighting the results of a longitudinal study conducted on students in engineering modeling and design (junior-level) courses at Arkansas Tech University. This course is selected because the teaching method is based on project-based learning activities. Using the collected data, we have analyzed the effect of learning style preference on the perception of self-efficacy. Previous research has demonstrated that students have different preferred learning styles, and they approach learning new information in different ways. Our collected data includes student responses on their learning styles, including lectures/discussions, books/related written material, video/movies/media, hands-on activities, and a hybrid method. Paired sample t-tests and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) are used to analyze the collected data. These methods allow us to determine any statistically significant differences between the self-efficacy scores at the start and end of the course. We also determine the impact of learning style preference on students' perception of self-efficacy. Based on the collected data, results indicated that the self-efficacy of students improved equally using project-based learning techniques, regardless of their learning style preferences.

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

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