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An Introductory Study of the Impact of Implementation Intentions on Assignment Completion Rates with an Emphasis on Engineering Technology Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Issues in Engineering Technolgy Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.200.1 - 26.200.13



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Paper Authors


Christina R Scherrer Southern Polytechnic State University

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Christina Scherrer is an associate professor of Systems and Industrial Engineering in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering at Kennesaw State University. Her research interests are in the application of operations research and economic decision analysis to the public sector and in assessing education innovation. She teaches primarily statistics and logistics courses, at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

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Leigh Sharma


Jennifer Vandenbussche Kennesaw State University

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Jennifer Vandenbussche is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Kennesaw State University. In addition to her research in the scholarship of teaching and learning, she does mathematics research in in the area of combinatorics, especially extremal graph theory. Her primary interest lies in coloring and matching problems in graphs.

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Valerie Washington Kennesaw State University

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Valerie Washington is an undergraduate student at Kennesaw State University, double majoring in Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering Technology, with a minor in Spanish.

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An Introductory Study of the Impact of Implementation Intentions onAssignment Completion Rates with an Emphasis on Engineering Technology StudentsWhat if there was a simple way to significantly increase the percentage of students completingtheir homework assignments, with little effort on the instructors’ part? An implementationintention is a clear strategy for achieving a goal, in the form of an “if-then” plan, that specifiesthe when, where and how a goal is to be reached. For example, “If I have just finished my10AM circuits class, then I will go to the library and work on my calculus homework until mynext class.” There is a rich body of literature in the field of psychology showing the success ofimplementation intentions, applied to things as diverse as exercise, impulse control, andovercoming addiction. However, prior to this study, very little work has been done applying thispractice to academics.Faculty at our university have grown frustrated with low completion rates on homeworkassignments. While often a low percentage of the students’ grade, such practice is especiallyimportant for the quantitative courses that make up much of the engineering technologycurriculum. We tested the impact of implementation intentions upon the completion ofhomework assignments for approximately 300 students during fall semester 2014. Students wererandomly assigned to one of three groups. Group one (approximately 50%) wroteimplementation intentions related to upcoming assignments; group two (approximately 25%)wrote less specific goals related to the same assignment; and group three (approximately 25%)wrote a control statement (e.g., about their semester in general). Written instructions wereprovided, and a research assistant was available to help. Students did not know which groupthey were in. Demographic information such as gender, ethnicity, age, and major were collected,as well as an assessment of the students’ prior intention to do the work. Students also took asurvey that measured various aspects of their personality, such as impulsivity and tendency toprocrastinate.Completion rates on the assignments will be measured at the end of the term and analyzed todraw conclusions on the relative success of implementation intentions. Results will be providedfor the whole sample as well as the engineering technology subset. We will look at the impact ofthe demographics as well as the personality survey.

Scherrer, C. R., & Sharma, L., & Vandenbussche, J., & Washington, V. (2015, June), An Introductory Study of the Impact of Implementation Intentions on Assignment Completion Rates with an Emphasis on Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23539

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