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Academic Help-seeking as a Stand-alone, Metacognitive Action: An Empirical Study of Experiences and Behaviors in Undergraduate Engineering Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Student Success II: Self-Regulatory, Metacognitive, and Professional Skills

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Christopher Herring University of Georgia

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Chris is currently a PhD student in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia. Chris’ dissertation work is in the area of engineering education specifically investigating academic help-seeking behavior in undergraduate engineering students. Chris is also interested in energy transformation systems and is investigating acoustic to electrical conversion. After completing his PhD, Chris plans to teach in an engineering program and continue work in engineering education.
Prior to entering UGA, Chris worked in education as a business manager, an IT adviser, and special topics instructor in a local high school. He also volunteered as a SAT math instructor, a science and math tutor, and a robotics team coach. Chris worked for various corporations for over 20 years in microprocessor architecture, error correcting codes, and system architecture. Chris holds 21 patents, participated in many industry standard specification groups including PCI and SDRAM, presented at many conferences and proceedings including Comdex, CeBIT, CES, US Patent Office, IEEE Micro, and others. Chris has a bachelor’s (with highest honors) and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech. Chris is married and has two sons. When he needs down time, Chris likes games of all types, hiking, sport shooting, and other outdoor activities. Chris also plays french horn in the local community band.

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Joachim Walther University of Georgia

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Dr. Joachim Walther is an associate professor of engineering education research at the University of Georgia (UGA). He is a director of the Collaborative Lounge for Understanding Society and Technology through Educational Research (CLUSTER), an interdisciplinary research group with members from engineering, art, educational psychology and social work. His research interests range from the role of empathy in engineering students' professional formation, the role of reflection in engineering learning, and interpretive research methodologies in the emerging field of engineering education research. His teaching focuses on innovative approaches to introducing systems thinking and creativity into the environmental engineering program at the University of Georgia.

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Academic help-seeking as a stand-alone, metacognitive action: An empirical study of experiences and behaviors in undergraduate engineering students Contemporary research investigating academic help-seeking behavior (HSB) is predominantly K-12 in focus. Few studies have examined HSB within an undergraduate engineering context. Primary efforts are quantitative which, due to typical engineering demographics, limits the voice of minority constituents. The purpose of this research is to develop a rich, empirical understanding of engineering students’ lived experiences of HSB ensuring the perspective of underrepresented groups. Self-efficacy (SE) and self-theory of intelligence (STOI) were examined as inputs into HSB. This qualitative research is based on interviews of students’ perceptions and constant-comparative techniques drawn from grounded theory. A multi-approach sampling method was used to ensure varied experiences, equal gender, and ethnic diversity. Results indicate a diversity of themes related to SE and STOI as influencers to the metacognitive action of help-seeking resulting in internal conflict during a recursive HSB decision process. Additionally, results emerge casting HSB as a must-learned skill for engineering students. Gender and ethnic concerns are discussed.

Herring, C., & Walther, J. (2016, June), Academic Help-seeking as a Stand-alone, Metacognitive Action: An Empirical Study of Experiences and Behaviors in Undergraduate Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26490

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