ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Maria Trache


This quantitative study uses data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002) to examine how aspiration levels of planning (or intention) and action (or choice) affect degree attainment for college students who expressed interest in pursing an engineering degree. Utilizing Social Cognitive Career Theory as derived from Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory, I investigated whether students' self-efficacy along with personal aspects of motivation and their aspirations influence educational attainment outcomes. These attributes are indicative of future intentions, and essential in students' persistence to overcome barriers toward completing an engineering degree. Data analysis includes descriptive statistics to compare Aspiring-engineers of three aspiration levels (High, Medium, Low) by a set of factors (e.g., socio-demographics, pre-college, post-secondary), and multivariate statistics to determine the likelihood of engineering-related outcomes (e.g. degree completion, science and engineering [S&E] credential). Findings suggest the proposed aspiring-engineer typology differentiates the sample with respect to socio-demographics, pre-college and post-secondary factors, and was also a main predictors of student outcomes. The results show students who have a High aspiration level toward engineering enter post-secondary education with a greater advantage with respect to preparation and attitudes and are capable of overcoming college barriers, thus increasing their likelihood of high educational attainment and earning of S&E credentials. Medium aspiration students are more likely to attain certificate or associate degrees by age 26 and credentials in non-S&E fields. Low aspiration students are more likely to be non-completers by age 26, attend 2-year or Other post-secondary institutions without evidence of a specific field of study. In summary, this study demonstrates that the level of aspiration toward an engineering major makes a difference on student outcomes, Aspirations are indicative of commitment and planning and thus influence aspiring-engineers' ability to overcome barriers during post-secondary education and succeed in S&E fields.


Engineering education, Engineering major, Science and engineering, Aspiration, Intention, Engineering, ELS, SCCT


Education | Educational Leadership


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington