ASQ - Education Division

Differences in Engineering Students' Beliefs About Knowledge Across Educational Levels

Abstract: This is a conference paper for the Education Division's 2011 ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda in Education, the Workplace and Society Conference. This paper was authored by Bethany A. King and Susan Magun-Jackson, of the University of Memphis.

This cross-sectional study used Schommer’s Epistemological Questionnaire (SEQ) to examine 518 engineering students from three different universities located in Tennessee to determine whether there were differences in their epistemological beliefs across educational levels (underclassmen, upperclassmen, and graduate). After examining these students, the results of this study indicated that Underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) were significantly more likely than Upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) to have beliefs in Quick Learning. This study contributes to engineering education research with conclusions that epistemological beliefs did indeed become more sophisticated as students progressed through college. In addition, it contributes to maintaining quality of engineering programs by providing an evaluation of student learning outcomes. 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 - Student Retention - Assessment/Surveys - Episemological Beliefs - Learning Outcomes - Higher Education - Conference Proceedings

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