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CAREER: Informing Instructional Practice through the Study of Students' Future Time Perspectives

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

9

DOI

10.18260/p.26452

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/26452

Download Count

135

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Paper Authors

biography

Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in Bioengineering. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, and their problem solving processes. Other projects in the Benson group include effects of student-centered active learning, self-regulated learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and mathematics classrooms. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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biography

Catherine McGough Clemson University

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Catherine McGough is currently a graduate research assistant in Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University in 2014. Her research interests are in undergraduate engineering student motivations and undergraduate engineering problem solving skill development and strategies.

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Justine Chasmar Clemson University

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Justine Chasmar is a coordinator in the Academic Success Center and a PhD candidate in the Engineering and Science Education Department at Clemson University. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson University.

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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno

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Adam Kirn is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers, their problem solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Bioengineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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Abstract

This research seeks to help educators understand factors that contribute to engineering students’ motivation and the relationship between those factors and their problem solving processes. Understanding these relationships will aid researchers and practitioners in preparing students for a future of complex problem solving in the face of rapid technological change and globalization. This project addresses these research questions: What motivational attributes that characterize engineering students are relevant to their problem-solving skills and knowledge transfer? How do these relationships differ between engineering disciplines? We conducted a quantitative study in which we developed the Motivation and Attitudes in Engineering (MAE) survey using achievement motivation as our theoretical framework. This study showed that a key factor in student success and learning is their motivation towards their future goals, especially with respect to career options. The relationships between that motivation and their activities in the present can be used by educators to increase interest in engineering, increase the relevance students see in their course activities, and prepare students to become effective engineers. Through this quantitative study, and in subsequent qualitative studies, we have identified three characteristic ways that students perceive their future goals and how those goals influence what they are doing in the present. One way students perceive the future is through one distinct long-term goal, reaching far into the future, with a high level of clarity. These students can identify contingent steps needed to reach their goal, which influences what is relevant and useful in the present. The second way students perceive the future is with two distinct long-term goals which are conflicting; one of these long term goals is realistic (with both desired and undesired aspects), while the other is an unattainable ideal. These students see a range of activities as being relevant and useful in the present. The third group of students has a broad, non-specific range of possible goals for the future and no specific plans beyond graduation. These students have weak or no connections between students’ future selves and the work they are doing in their engineering courses. Students within these different characteristic ways of perceiving the future respond differently to classroom activities. For example, when asked about what they think an engineering problem is, students with distinct future goals and who make connections between future and present tend to think of engineering problems as being well-structured and having clear right/wrong answers. Students with ill-defined futures and no connections between future and present see engineering problems as “anything” and tend to approach them conceptually. We are sharing these results with engineering educators to inform them of the different ways their students are perceiving the future. This will allow educators to better understand the students in their classes and to design activities and assignments that students will find relevant and meaningful. The study will continue to explore the different ways that the MAE survey can be used to benefit practitioners and instructors. Currently, the MAE is being used to explore connections between motivations of students and their behaviors in the classroom, including regulating their learning and solving complex problems.

Benson, L., & McGough, C., & Chasmar, J., & Kirn, A. (2016, June), CAREER: Informing Instructional Practice through the Study of Students' Future Time Perspectives Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26452

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