Date of Award:

2014

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Advisor/Chair:

Gary A. Stewardson

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Edward Reeve

Abstract

The number of robotics competitions has steadily increased over the past 30 years. Schools are implementing robotics competitions to increase student content knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Companies in STEM-related fields are financially supporting robotics competitions to help increase the number of students pursuing careers in STEM among other reasons. These financial supporters and school administrations are asking what the outcomes of students participating in competitive robotics are. Few studies have been conducted to investigate these outcomes. The studies that have been conducted usually compare students in robotics to students not in robotics. There have not been any studies that compare students to themselves before and after participating in robotics competitions. This may be due to the lack of available instruments to measure student outcomes.

This study developed an instrument to measure the self-efficacy of students participating in VEX Robotics Competitions (VRC). The VRC is the world’s largest and fastest growing robotics competition available for middle and high school students. Self-efficacy was measured because of its importance to the education community. Students with higher self-efficacy tend to persevere through difficult tasks more frequently than students with low self-efficacy. A person’s self-efficacy has major influence over what interests, activities, classes, college majors, and careers he or she will pursue in life.

The self-efficacy survey instrument created through this study was developed through an occupational and task analysis (OTA), and initial content and face validity was established through the OTA process. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were also conducted to assist in instrument validation. The reliability was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha. Face validity was established through the OTA process. Construct validity was established through the factor analyses. The processes of the OTA and factor analyses have created an instrument that results indicate is reliable and valid to use in further research studies.