ASQ - Education Division

A Comparison of Epistemological Beliefs of African American Engineering Students

Abstract: This paper is authored by Bethany King Wilkes and is part of the ASQ 2012 Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference proceedings.

This study used Schommer’s Epistemological Questionnaire (SEQ) to examine 146 African American engineering college students located in Tennessee to determine whether there were differences in epistemological beliefs between the students that attended a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) versus those that attended a Historically Black University (HBCU). After examining these students, the results of this study indicated that there were no significant differences in the epistemological beliefs between students attending the PWI and the HBCU; however, differences in simple knowledge beliefs were found between underclassmen and upperclassmen African American engineering students attending an HBCU. Moreover, graduate level African American engineering students at a PWI had significantly different beliefs in quick learning and fixed ability from undergraduate African American engineering students.
This study contributes to engineering education research with conclusions that institutional types, such as PWI and HBCU, do not necessarily influence African American engineering students’ epistemological beliefs. In order to fully understand epistemological beliefs as related to engineering students’ development and experience, further research is needed to longitudinally examine engineering students’ epistemological beliefs.

Keywords: STEM - Assessment/Surveys - Episemological Beliefs - Higher Education Brief - Conference Proceedings

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