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5 Myths About Stem College Student Motivation That Affect The Teaching And Learning Process

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.6.1 - 12.6.18

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Paper Authors

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Gypsy Denzine Northern Arizona University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Five Misconceptions about Engineering Students’ Motivation that Affect the Teaching and Learning Process

Gypsy M. Denzine, Ph.D. College of Education Northern Arizona University

INTRODUCTION The engineering education literature cites findings revealing that approximately fifty percent of students who enter engineering programs as traditional freshman do not earn an undergraduate engineering degree1. In response to this retention problem, engineering educational researchers have applied a wide variety of theoretical perspectives to the study of college student learning and college teaching. Some researchers look for more external factors such as lack of financial aid2,3, while other researcher focus on lack of academic preparation or ability3,4 such as failure or withdraw from Calculus I and other “gatekeeper” courses in the freshman year5. Over the last two decades, an increasingly number of engineering education researchers have begun to explore internal cognitive factors that may affect college student learning, achievement, and degree completion. Perhaps sparked by Felder and Silverman’s6,7 1988 seminal paper on the definitions of learning styles, engineering education researchers are attending to the understanding of individual differences in college student learning and achievement. In doing so, this group of researchers appear to be eager to apply theories of learning and development to the study of college student retention, academic success, and career choice. For example, in their 2004 paper, Hartman and Branoff8 applied Vygotsky’s socio- cultural-historical, Bandura’s social-cognitive theory, and Human Information-Processing theory to the instruction of constraint-based solid modeling and other engineering graphics topics. In contrast to Hartman and Branoff’s application of “grand” theories of learning, a substantial number of engineering education researchers are focusing on the topic of achievement motivation2,9-13. A quick scan of the topics of papers presented over the past five years at ASEE reveals there is indeed a strong interest in achievement motivation9-13. A review of these papers from the viewpoint of an educational psychologist, however, suggests there is a need to clarify and expand the current engineering education theoretical knowledge base in regards to learning theory and more specifically, college student achievement motivation. In response to this need, this paper is organized around five common misconceptions about college student motivation held by many educators and researchers in higher education. The misconceptions discussed in this paper are not unique to faculty members in Colleges of Engineering. In fact, some of the misconceptions and controversies about college student learning and motivation are present among faculty members in Colleges of Education. The primary goal of this paper is to challenge some of the misconceptions about college student learning, recommend some teaching strategies and interventions, and provide engineering education researchers with some key references from the field of educational psychology. FIVE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ENGINEERING STUDENTS’ MOTIVATION Misconception #1. Learning and motivation are influenced by students' learning styles. The higher education literature has an abundance of learning style models and frameworks, which have overlapping theoretical assumptions. One of the theoretical assumptions is that students will bring their unique style to a wide variety of tasks regardless of

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015