Purdue University Graduate School
Jennifer Blackburn thesis (FINAL).pdf (933.85 kB)

Self-Efficacy Development of Female Secondary Students in an Assistive Co-robotics Project

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posted on 2024-04-24, 14:07 authored by Jennifer Brooke BlackburnJennifer Brooke Blackburn

Women are underrepresented in science, technology engineering and math (STEM) careers. This is particularly detrimental within the space of engineering and technology where the women can provide unique perspectives about design. People are more likely to choose careers in which they feel confident in their abilities. Therefore, this study examined the experiences of girls in high school engineering and technology programs who were in the process of making decisions about their future careers. It explored how their classroom experiences were related to the development of their self-efficacy in engineering. This study addressed the research question: How and in what ways do the classroom experiences of female secondary students during a co- robotics assistive technology project relate to their changes in engineering self-efficacy? This question was addressed through qualitative case study research. Data were collected through observation, focus group interviews, and review of design journals kept by the participants. The data were coded, and themes were developed as guided by Bandura’s four sources of self-efficacy. Findings from this study indicated that the high school girls relied in varying amounts on different sources of self-efficacy based on their initial self-efficacy, their interactions with their teammates during group work, and connections they made between the content and applications in their lives outside of the classroom. The girls in the study had improved or maintained self-efficacy because they were able to achieve their desired outcomes in the projects. Relatedly frustrations that the girls faced along the way were not detrimental because they ultimately achieved success. Positive experiences with teammates supported the girls’ self-efficacy development, and negative experiences deterred self-efficacy. Finally, when the girls made connections between the content they were learning and applications that held value for them, they were more motivated to engage in experiences that supported the development of their self-efficacy.


National Science Foundation Grant 2133028


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Technology Leadership and Innovation

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Nathan Mentzer

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Hui Hui Wang

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Paul Asunda

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