Drawing on SCCT, this study identifies person-level contextual and sociocognitive variables that are hypothesized to influence persistence intentions and performance in engineering. SCCT is based on Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory, which was originally extended to the career domain by Hackett and Betz. SCCT explains the interaction among personal, environmental, and behavioral variables in the process in which vocational interests and career choices develop, and an individual persists in her or his career. SCCT suggests career goals are a function of self-efficacy beliefs (confidence in one's ability to perform a specific task), outcome expectations (expectancies related to engaging in a specific task), and vocational interests (preferred likes and dislikes for specific tasks). That is, individuals are more likely to consider a particular vocation when they view themselves as competent in that career domain, when they anticipate positive outcomes in the chosen vocation, and when they have formed strong interests in the tasks related to the profession. In turn, goal intentions are hypothesized to influence performance indirectly through its effects on actions.
The proposed study tested several SCCT propositions with a sample of engineering students attending Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI, Project 1) or either Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) or HSI's (Project 2). First, we examined whether the SCCT model explains the academic satisfaction and persistence in engineering. Consistent with SCCT, we hypothesized that
- learning experiences will influence self-efficacy and outcome expectations;
- interests will be predicted by self-efficacy (2a) and outcome expectations (2b);
- choice goals will be predicted by self-efficacy (3a), outcome expectations (3b), and interests (3c); and
- engineering choice goals will influence satisfaction (academic, work, life) and persistence in engineering majors.
In addition, we investigated:
- the influence of person inputs and distal background contextual variables--namely year in college (5a), ethnicity identity (5b), gender role trait instrumentality (5c), gender role trait expressiveness (5d)--on learning experiences.
Finally, we examined
- the influence of proximal contextual variables on self-efficacy (6a) and choice goals (6b).
The analyses regarding perceived supports, perceived barriers and coping efficacy on self-efficacy and choice goals are exploratory due to the limited or equivocal empirical support for these relations with other engineering student samples.
Next, we tested for
- group invariance of the SCCT model along two dimensions: gender (7a), race/ethnicity (7b), and the interaction of gender and race/ethnicity (7c).
Although SCCT addresses the influence of environmental context in shaping gendered and cultural experiences that can influence learning experiences, the theory does not make any predictions about the relations among variables in the model across groups; thus, the latter research question also is exploratory. This research question will allow us to assess similarities and differences in the relations among the variables in the model based on one’s gender and race/ethnicity to determine if the SCCT model is generalizable across groups. Finally, we conducted interviews with Latino/a non-persisters in engineering to examine the salient factors in their decision to leave engineering.
Study Population. The target population for our work consists of Latinas, Latinos, White women, and White men who have officially declared engineering majors.
See table below for cohorts and survey administrations for our prior projects.
|Study Cohorts and Survey Administrations for Prior Projects