Understanding Student Self-efficacy to Promote Success in Electrical Engineering

Close up view of someone using soldering tools on an electrical circuit board

“Understanding Student Self-efficacy to Promote Success in Electrical Engineering,” Professor John Booske, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professor Booske is focusing his study on a first-year hands-on laboratory course, ECE210 “Introductory Experience in Electrical Engineering.”

He will study self-efficacy for students to pursue Electrical and Computer Engineering by investing in lab kits given to students to explore in- and out-of class experimentation. Providing students with their own kits was an approach developed during COVID-19 that was believed to be successful and will continue to gather data to better understand the impacts on learning now that students are able to return to more “traditional” lab settings.

More specifically, Professor Booske proposes to explore the following questions about the hands-on, real-world, collaborative approach to ECE210.

  • To what extent does ECE210 help students develop a sense of self-efficacy to pursue ECE as a major?
  • To what extent does ECE210 level the playing field for students who enter their first year in ECE with different levels of prior ECE-related knowledge and experience?
  • Does the financial investment of providing students with a packet of consumable components and measuring instruments provide a return on investment for an improved student learning experience?

Professor Booske collaborated with the CIEE and Josh Wallace from the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative to develop a research framework that included a student survey and focus group protocol to explore the questions above. The framework was piloted in fall 2022 and the lessons learned will be used to make improvements in future semesters. It should also be noted that Professor Venkataramanan, also a Keith and Jane Morgan Nosbusch Professor, has taught and recently revised this course and will be a key collaborator on this project. The outcome of this study will help inform further developments of this course and others that require hands-on learning experiences.