Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Impact of Fab Lab Tulsa on Student Self-Efficacy toward STEM Education

Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Impact of Fab Lab Tulsa on Student Self-Efficacy toward STEM Education

Article excerpt

Self-Efficacy.

One's perceived self-competence (self-efficacy) is paramount in the motivation to pursue and to regulate effort toward a given goal (Bandura, 1997). Furthermore, self-efficacy predicts persistence toward a goal and is paramount when facing difficulties in goal attainment (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2001). Studies consistently demonstrate the association between student self-efficacy and academic achievement (Schunk, 1984; Zimmerman, 2000). Bandura and Locke (2003) reviewed nine meta-analytic studies across substantive domains (e.g., education, work) and methodological designs (experimental to correlational) concluding, "The evidence from these meta-analyses is consistent in showing that efficacy beliefs contribute significantly to the level of motivation and performance."(p. 87). In educational settings, the meta-analytic studies show students who score higher on self-efficacy demonstrate persistence in the presence of barriers, develop long-term strategies, and self-regulate their progress toward their academic goal compared to lower self-efficacious students (Bandura & Locke, 2003; Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991). Komarraju and Nadler (2013) found students with higher self-efficacy were better able to regulate their impulses and persist in the presence of difficulty toward goal attainment.

Self-efficacy plays a central role in human agentic perspectives in that these self-beliefs affect our capacity for adaptation and achievement both directly and indirectly (Bandura, 2001; Bandura & Locke, 2003; Schunk, 2001). Patrick, Care and Ainley (2011) found that given a vocational interest, self-efficacy predicted enrollments leading toward a specific educational pathway in a cohort of students. It follows that self-efficacy is a cornerstone for student interest and engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Interest in STEM is due, in part, to the growing workforce demand and an increasingly limited supply of qualified applicants (Hossain & Robinson, 2012). Nevertheless, few studies exist investigating the impact of STEM programs on student self-efficacy. MacPhee, Farro, and Canetto (2013) found self-efficacy as an important predictor of performance for underrepresented STEM majors among females, minorities, and lower social economic status college students. The goal of such pursuits is to ultimately increase the number of individuals pursuing STEM related pathways as well as STEM related careers. Enhancing attitudes and confidence among students contributes to interest, learning and persistence in STEM content (Bell, Lewenstein, Shouse, & Feder, 2009). The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of Fab Lab Tulsa on student self-efficacy toward STEM education.

Fab Lab Tulsa

The Fab Lab concept was developed at MIT by Professor Neil Gershenfeld, founder and head of the Center for Bits and Atoms, who developed course titled "How to Make Almost Anything." As part of the class, he gave students access to a fabrication laboratory containing basic cutting, milling and electronic tools. Inspired by the transformative results, Professor Gershenfeld encouraged others to open similar Fab Lab's in their own communities giving ordinary people the ability to make whatever they want. To support the international growth of the Fab Lab network, the Fab Foundation was formed in 2009. The Fab Foundation mission is, "...to provide access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything, and thereby creating opportunities to improve lives an livelihoods around the world." (fabfoundation.org).

The Hardesty Center for Fab Lab Tulsa is an IRS qualified 501 (c) (3) tax exempt, not-for-profit entity located in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma with a grand opening 2011 (fablabtulsa.com). Fab Lab Tulsa provides community access to advanced manufacturing and digital fabrication tools for learning skills, developing inventions, creating businesses and producing personalized products. …

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