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Analyzing Changes in Motivational Constructs for First-Year Engineering Students during the Revision of a First-Year Curriculum

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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

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 8: Ways to Measure "Things" About Your Course(s)

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Lilianny Virguez Virginia Tech

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Lilianny Virguez is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She has work experience in engineering and has taught engineering courses at the first-year level.Her research interests include motivation to succeed in engineering with a focus on first-year students.

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Kenneth Reid Virginia Tech

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Kenneth Reid is the Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Programs in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is active in engineering within K-12, serving on the TSA Board of Directors. He and his coauthors were awarded the William Elgin Wickenden award for 2014, recognizing the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education. He was awarded an IEEE-USA Professional Achievement Award in 2013 for designing the nation's first B.S. degree in Engineering Education. He was named NETI Faculty Fellow for 2013-2014, and the Herbert F. Alter Chair of Engineering (Ohio Northern University) in 2010. His research interests include success in first-year engineering, engineering in K-12, introducing entrepreneurship into engineering, and international service and engineering. He has written two texts in Digital Electronics, including the text used by Project Lead the Way.

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Tamara Knott Virginia Tech

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Tamara Knott is Associate Professor of engineering education at Virginia Tech. She is the Director of the First-year Program. Her interests include assessment and pedagogy. Within ASEE, she is a member of the First-year Programs Division, the Women in Engineering Division, the Educational Research and Methods Division, and the Design in Engineering Education Division. She is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and is the Faculty Adviser for SWE at VT.

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The purpose of this research paper is to investigate the changes in motivational constructs for First-Year engineering students based on the revision of one of the introductory courses in the first year program in a large, public university. The course was revised as part of the assessment of the first year curriculum, with specific goals that include more effectively supporting student motivation to enhance student retention. Two versions of the course, classic and revised, were offered during one semester to the same cohort of students. A survey was implemented at the beginning and at the end of the semester in both courses including four constructs of motivation: identity, utility, belonging, and expectancy, along with other questions to collect demographic and course specific data. We analyzed data during the first and second semester when the revised version of the course was offered. During the first semester, 851 out of 1100 students enrolled in the classic version of the course and 184 out of 240 enrolled in the revised version of the course consented to participate. For the fall 2014 semester, of 1400 total, 1161 (at the beginning of the semester) and 1065 (at the end of the semester) completed the survey and consented to participate in the study.

Specifically, we address the following research questions: 1) How did first year students' identity, utility, belonging, and expectancy motivation constructs change during the course of the first year? 2) How do these constructs differ between students in the ‘classic’ and revised course?

The findings should be useful to programs changing, or anticipating changes to their first-year programs.

Virguez, L., & Reid, K., & Knott, T. (2016, June), Analyzing Changes in Motivational Constructs for First-Year Engineering Students during the Revision of a First-Year Curriculum Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26246

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