Biomedical engineering undergraduates are often drawn to clinical practice rather than to careers in engineering. This implies an equivalent self-concept among BME majors as clinicians than as engineers – a psychological construct relating to a student’s belief about themselves, and their affinity for certain identities. There are several instruments for measuring engineering self-concept, some tied directly to self-efficacy – a belief in one’s ability to achieve success. However, these instruments do not necessarily tie to beliefs about careers, for example becoming a doctor rather than an engineer, and all of these instruments rely on explicit declarations by students. We therefore sought to measure career self-concept through both explicit and implicit means, and relate these to self-efficacy. An Implicit Association Test was employed to measure implicit career self-concept among a group of biomedical engineering students enrolled in a design class. Explicit career bias was also measured, as was engineering design self-efficacy. We found a moderate to strong correlation between explicitly declared bias toward engineering as a career, and an implicit measure of career self-concept. These were unrelated to all but one aspect of self-efficacy. We found that there was a gain from the beginning to the end of the semester in career bias, and that there was a trend toward this gain being among men, but not among women. We believe that these measures can be used to isolate the effects of curriculum, learning, and teaching interventions in the development of biases among biomedical engineering students toward differential career goals.
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