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Constructing self-efficacy in STEM graduate education

LaVar Charleston (University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
Raul Leon (Department of Leadership and Counseling, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 13 June 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

Self-efficacy and outcome expectations influence the development of career interests, which, in turn, affect career choices. This study aims to understand self-efficacy beliefs and expectancy outcomes for African-American graduate students and faculty with a focus in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs, namely, the computing sciences.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative study examined the lived experiences of 23 African-American graduate students and faculty members in the STEM field of computing sciences.

Findings

This study reveals that in different stages of the STEM trajectory, self-efficacy of STEM and computing needs to be reestablished. This research captures a novel space in the self-efficacy literature, presenting self-efficacy as a mobile construct to be re-achieved as students’ progress toward advanced STEM degrees. In addition, this study asserts that the contribution and input of teachers, parents, mentors, counselors and peers has a deep impact on the level of self-efficacy and persistence in computing sciences.

Originality/value

Findings suggest a greater need for interventions designed to reestablish self-efficacy at each level (e.g. undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees) of the STEM educational trajectory in an effort to broaden STEM participation at the highest levels of degree attainment.

Keywords

Citation

Charleston, L. and Leon, R. (2016), "Constructing self-efficacy in STEM graduate education", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 152-166. https://doi.org/10.1108/JME-12-2015-0048

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited