Perception and Attitude Tests at Texas A&M University
Student perceptions and attitudes about their educational experiences have been found to make an important contribution to the retention of students in undergraduate science, math, engineering, and technology (SMET) programs. For example, studies conducted at Texas A&M suggested that women as a group had lower retention, despite higher incoming preparation and higher performance, compared to men. Findings of this nature have also been made elsewhere, supporting the assumption that student perceptions do help drive persistence, and may be based upon issues independent of a student's academic preparation and grade performance.
Student persistence in SMET disciplines is a matter of national concern in the context of contemporary life, which is increasingly affected by scientific, mathematical, and technological innovations. Hence, generating and sustaining positive attitudes and appropriate perceptions about SMET disciplines and about learning experiences in SMET programs have become a matter of great importance among academicians. The measurement of student perceptions and attitudes has therefore become a focus of research in a variety of academic programs. The following two sections describe tools used at Texas A&M University to measure student attitude and perception in the freshman and sophomore years.