Date of Award:

5-15-2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Melanie M. Domenech Rodriguez

Abstract

As college classrooms increase in size, the challenge of keeping students engaged in the course becomes a greater challenge. Instructors are burdened with the task of managing larger classrooms while maintaining high levels of student participation. Research has shown that students tend to hide and are less likely to participate in larger classrooms. Research has also shown that student participation is affected by fear of judgment from their peers and the instructor. However it is unclear whether this fear is tied to students’ perceived ability or self-efficacy. In addition, it may be that students’ perception of the instructor may affect their class participation. The present study attempted to disentangle how these factors work together to influence student engagement in the classroom.

The present study was conducted over the fall 2013 semester. Two hundred forty four students were recruited from three introductory psychology courses. At the beginning of the semester, students were asked to report their perception of their academic ability (academic self-efficacy; ASE) and demographic information. During the last week of instruction, students were asked to self-report their ASE, level of course engagement, and perceptions of the instructors teaching self-efficacy (PIE). After grades were posted, the final grades for each student were collected.

Three predictions were explored: (a) changes in ASE would predict students’ course grade, (b) the relationship between student ASE and student grades would be mediated or moderated by student engagement, and (c) PIE would moderate the relationship between students’ ASE and student engagement. Two of the predictions were supported. Changes in ASE did predict students’ course grades such that increases in ASE predicted increases in grades as well. Student engagement partially explained the relationship between ASE and grades. Closer examination showed that performance (wanting good grades in the course) accounted for the relationship between ASE and course grades. The final prediction could not be evaluated because PIE was not related to ASE. However results show that PIE does significantly impact student engagement in the course.

This adds to previous literature and shows that perceptions of an instructor’s teaching self-efficacy can influence how students engage in the course. These results also align with previous research that has shown that students with higher sense of ASE and course engagement have better academic outcomes.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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