Problem-based learning and self-efficacy: How a capstone course prepares students for a profession

  • Joanna C. Dunlap


Problem-based learning (PBL) is apprenticeship for real-life problem solving, helping students acquire the knowledge and skills required in the workplace. Although the acquisition of knowledge and skills makes it possible for performance to occur, without self-efficacy the performance may not even be attempted. I examined how student self-efficacy, as it relates to being software development professionals, changed while involved in a PBL environment. Thirty-one undergraduate university computer science students completed a 16-week capstone course in software engineering during their final semester prior to graduation. Specific instructional strategies used in PBL—namely the use of authentic problems of practice, collaboration, and reflection—are presented as the catalyst for students' improved self-efficacy. Using a self-efficacy scale as pre-and postmeasures, and guided journal entries as process data, students were observed to increase their levels of self-efficacy.


Software Development Performance Accomplishment Software Development Project Software Development Life Cycle Journal Response 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna C. Dunlap
    • 1
  1. 1.The School of Education of the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences CenterUSA

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