An Australian study of possible selves perceived by undergraduate engineering students
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In this study, we worked with second-year engineering students at an Australian university to examine previously identified threshold concepts within the theoretical framework of Possible Selves. Using workshops as the context for intensive work with students, students were encouraged to consider their future lives and work, including their engineering fears, expectations, and aspirations. The findings revealed many students to have a poor understanding of the realities of engineering work. Moreover, perceived gaps between self-efficacy and the requirements of engineering work appeared to be motivating if students deemed it possible to reduce the gap, but demotivating if they identified a characteristic over which there was perceived to be no control. The study suggests that these engineering students needed more opportunities to explore both the roles of engineers and their own possible selves. Overall, the findings indicate that higher education students may need encouragement and support to explore potential future roles, and they strengthen calls for further research in this area.
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