Measuring engineering design self-efficacy

Adam R. Carberry, Hee Sun Lee, Matthew W. Ohland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

312 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Self-concept can influence how an individual learns, but is often overlooked when assessing student learning in engineering. PURPOSE (HYPOTHESIS): To validate an instrument designed to measure individuals' self-concepts toward engineering design tasks, three research questions were investigated: (a) how well the items in the instrument represent the engineering design process in eliciting the task-specific self-concepts of self-efficacy, motivation, outcome expectancy and anxiety, (b) how well the instrument predicts differences in the self-efficacy held by individuals with a range of engineering experiences, and (c) how well the responses to the instrument align with the relationships conceptualized in self-efficacy theory. DESIGN/METHOD: A 36-item online instrument was developed and administered to 202 respondents. Three types of validity evidence were obtained for (a) representativeness of multi-step engineering design processes in eliciting self-efficacy, (b) the instrument's ability to differentiate groups of individuals with different levels of engineering experience and (c) relationships between self-efficacy, motivation, outcome expectancy, and anxiety as predicted by self-efficacy theory. RESULTS: Results indicate that the instrument can reliably identify individuals' engineering design self-efficacy (α = 0.967), motivation (α = 0.955), outcome expectancy (α = 0.967) and anxiety (α = 0.940). One-way ANOVA identified statistical differences in self-efficacy between high, intermediate and low experience groups at the ρ < 0.05 level. Self-efficacy was also shown to be correlated to motivation (0.779), outcome expectancy (0.919) and anxiety (-0.593) at the ρ < 0.01 level. CONCLUSIONS: The study showed that the instrument was capable of identifying individuals' self-concepts specific to the engineering design tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Engineering design
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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