Exploring the Correlation Between Students Reported Self-Efficacy and Retention

Joseph Dygert, West Virginia University
Melissa L. Morris, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Robin A.M. Hensel, West Virginia University


The Academy of Engineering Success (AcES), supported by an NSF S-STEM grant since 2016, employs literature-based, best practices to support and retain students in engineering. AcES students participate in a one-week summer bridge experience; a common fall semester course focused on professional development, time management and study skills, and career exploration; and a common spring semester course emphasizing the role of engineers in societal development. Students are also immersed in co-curricular activities with the goals of fostering feelings of institutional inclusion and belonging in engineering, providing academic support and student success skills, and professional development. AcES students participate in the GRIT, LAESE, and MSLQ surveys at the start and end of each fall semester and at the end of the spring semester each year. Focus group data is collected at the beginning, middle and end of each semester and one-on-one interviews occur at the start and end of each semester. The surveys provide a measure of students’ GRIT, general self-efficacy, engineering self-efficacy, test anxiety, math outcome efficacy, intrinsic value of learning, inclusion, career expectations, and coping efficacy. A previous study, based on an analysis of the 2017 AcES cohort survey responses, produced a surprising result. When the responses of AcES students who retained were compared to the responses of AcES students who left engineering, those who left engineering had higher baseline values of GRIT, career expectations, engineering self-efficacy, and math outcome efficacy than those students who retained. These results appear to support the Kruger-Dunning effect. This paper presents the subsequent analysis of two years of participant data, the 2017 and 2018 cohorts, to further explore the possibility or the strength of this effect for these students and investigates possible reasons for the results.