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CAREER: Student Motivation and Learning in Engineering

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.273.1 - 23.273.13



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Paper Authors


Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Benson teaches first-year engineering, undergraduate research methods, and graduate engineering education courses. Her research interests include student-centered active learning, assessment of motivation, and how motivation affects student learning. She is also involved in projects that utilize Tablet PCs to enhance and assess learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and math classrooms. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Adam Kirn Clemson University Orcid 16x16


Beshoy Morkos Florida Institute of Technology

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Dr. Beshoy Morkos is a newly appointed assistant professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. Morkos was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University performing NSF-funded research on engineering student motivation and its effects on persistence and the use of advanced technology in engineering classroom environments. Dr. Morkos received his Ph.D. from Clemson University in the Clemson Engineering Design and Applications Research (CEDAR) lab under Dr. Joshua Summers. While at Clemson, he received many national awards and was a recipient of the ASME Graduate Teaching Fellowship. His research focuses on developing computational representation and reasoning support for the management complex system design, and is currently implemented in multiple industry practices. Dr. Morkos’ research has been published in several journals and conference proceedings around the world. He graduated with his B.S. and M.S in Mechanical Engineering in 2006 and 2008 from Clemson University and has worked on multiple sponsored projects funded by partners such as NASA, Michelin, and BMW. His past work experience include working at the BMW Information Technology Research Center (ITRC) as a research associate, and for Robert Bosch Corporation as a manufacturing engineer. Dr. Morkos’ research thrust include: design representations, computational reasoning, systems modeling and engineering, engineering education, collaborative design, and data/knowledge management.

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CAREER: Student Motivation and Learning in EngineeringThis project seeks to help educators understand factors contributing to engineering students’motivation to learn and perform well academically, and to examine correlations between thesefactors and students’ cognitive processes. Specifically, we are examining differences betweenstudent motivation factors in different engineering majors, and correlations between these factorsand evidence of knowledge transfer when students are working on problems in contexts that arenew to them. Understanding these relationships will address the challenges facing engineeringeducators: increasing interest in engineering, creating a more diverse engineering workforce, andpreparing students for a future of rapid technological change and globalization.The first phase of this project involved identifying and understanding factors that contribute toengineering students' motivation to learn and succeed, and compare these for different studenttypes (by demographics and choice of major). A quantitative study was conducted in which aMotivation and Attitudes in Engineering (MAE) survey was developed using achievement valueas the theoretical framework. Three constructs were identified through factor analysis:Expectancy, Present Perceptions (students' perceptions of their present tasks in engineeringstudies), and Future Perceptions (students' perceptions of their future tasks as engineers). Surveyresponses over the course of the first year in engineering for a single cohort of students (n=959)were collected and tested for reliability and validity, and to analyze relationships betweenconstructs and student retention and choice of major data two years later (n=424).Comparison of constructs over the course of the first year in engineering showed a significantdecrease in expectancy, and a significant increase in student perceptions about present andfuture. Binomial regression analysis revealed that a student's perception about the future was asignificantly positive predictor of his/her persistence in engineering. The interaction betweenperceptions about the present and future was a negative predictor of persistence. No significantdifferences were observed in motivation construct values by gender. The MAE survey and aninformal Beginning of Semester (BOS) survey (used to assess how students choose their majors)were examined for differences in engineering student motivation based on major. While nodifferences in any survey constructs were observed by major, differences in individual surveyitems were examined between majors grouped by overall features (traditional versusinterdisciplinary). Students in interdisciplinary majors placed greater importance on making adifference and the availability of scholarship money, while students in traditional majors valuedengineering work and designing and building things.This data is being used to identify appropriate frameworks for future research, such as extrinsicvalue (scholarship money), identity formation and possible selves (I like to design and build), orgoal theory (benefitting society). These findings will help direct more in-depth qualitativeresearch into student motivation, which will be followed by studies of how students withdifferent motivational attributes transfer knowledge when working problems in contexts theyhave not seen before.

Benson, L., & Kirn, A., & Morkos, B. (2013, June), CAREER: Student Motivation and Learning in Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19287

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