Career aspirations, perceived instrumentality, and achievement in undergraduate computer science courses

Markeya S. Peteranetz, Abraham E. Flanigan, Duane F. Shell, Leen Kiat Soh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This research investigated the relationships among undergraduate computer science students’ computer-science-related career aspirations, perceived instrumentality (PI) for computer science courses, and achievement in those courses. Specifically, the two studies examined (a) change in PI and career aspirations during a single semester, (b) the relationship between change in career aspirations and change in PI, and (c) the influence of career aspirations, PI, and change in career aspirations and PI on achievement in computer science courses. Findings from both studies revealed that students experienced a decrease in endogenous PI and career aspirations and an increase in exogenous PI during the semester. Study 1 showed that non-computer science majors experienced greater shifts in PI and career aspirations than computer science majors. Study 2 showed that the change in PI happened in parallel and was curvilinear, with more change happening in the first half of the semester than the second half. Both studies also showed that computer-science-related career aspirations were associated with PI, and that aspirations and PI had a stronger relationship with scores on a computer science knowledge test than with course grades. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-44
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Career aspirations
  • Computer science education
  • Future time perspective
  • Motivation
  • Perceived instrumentality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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