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Curious About Student Curiosity: Implications of Pedagogical Approach for Students’ Mindset

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Margot A. Vigeant Bucknell University

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Margot Vigeant is a professor of chemical engineering at Bucknell University. She earned her B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University, and her M.S. and Ph.D., also in chemical engineering, from the University of Virginia. Her primary research focus is on engineering pedagogy at the undergraduate level. She is particularly interested in the teaching and learning of concepts related to thermodynamics. She is also interested in active, collaborative, and problem-based learning, and in the ways hands-on activities such as making, technology, and games can be used to improve student engagement.

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Michael J. Prince Bucknell University

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Dr. Michael Prince is a professor of chemical engineering at Bucknell University and co-director of the National Effective Teaching Institute. His research examines a range of engineering education topics, including how to assess and repair student misconceptions and how to increase the adoption of research-based instructional strategies by college instructors and corporate trainers. He is actively engaged in presenting workshops on instructional design to both academic and corporate instructors.

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Katharyn E. K. Nottis Bucknell University

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Dr. Nottis is an Educational Psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Education at Bucknell University. Her research has focused on meaningful learning in science and engineering education, approached from the perspective of Human Constructivism. She has authored several publications and given numerous presentations on the generation of analogies, misconceptions, and facilitating learning in science and engineering education. She has been involved in collaborative research projects focused on conceptual learning in chemistry, chemical engineering, seismology, and astronomy.

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Amy Frances Golightly Bucknell University Orcid 16x16

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Student curiosity compels learners to go beyond what is presented in the classroom, to connect what they have discovered with other concepts, and to finally create new items and knowledge to help address the world’s problems. Encouraging this entrepreneurial mindset is a goal within a number of courses at our institution. While not every learner arrives in our classrooms innately curious about the course topic, by using alternative instructional approaches, perhaps curiosity might be fostered more broadly. The goal of this study is to explore the hypothesis that courses that include open-ended, real-world problems will foster growth of the entrepreneurial mindset to a greater extent than courses that do not have these attributes. We used the SIMS instrument (Guay et al., 2000) for situational motivation in conjunction with a situational curiosity sub-scale (Chen et al., 1999) to assess the situational curiosity and motivational states of engineering undergraduates over the course of three semesters. Students and faculty reported on the extent to which open-ended, real-world problems were a part of each course, along with a host of additional factors including the voluntary nature of the course, whether or not projects resulted in a physical artifact, and if students worked on interdisciplinary teams. Results suggest that interdisciplinary work on “real” problems for actual clients has a significant positive correlation with students’ intrinsic motivation and curiosity.

Vigeant, M. A., & Prince, M. J., & Nottis, K. E. K., & Golightly, A. F. (2018, June), Curious About Student Curiosity: Implications of Pedagogical Approach for Students’ Mindset Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30245

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