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Developing an Instrument to Measure Motivation, Learning Strategies and Conceptual Change

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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

Motivation and Self-Efficacy

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.392.1 - 23.392.22



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Paper Authors


Rachel McCord Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Rachel McCord is a second year graduate student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Her current research interests include motivation, conceptual understanding and student use of metacognitive practices. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Tennessee. Her advisor is Dr. Holly Matusovich.

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Holly M Matusovich Virginia Tech

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Developing an Instrument to Measure Motivation, Learning Strategies and Conceptual Change A major focus in engineering education is graduating more engineers with the skillsnecessary to lead innovation in design and practice in industry. Recent studies have shown thatsome students are graduating from engineering programs while still holding onto misconceptionsin areas such as statics, electricity and magnetism, and thermodynamics. There are significantresearch studies being conducted presently that focus on these misconceptions but few havefocused on the intentional ways that students can engage in learning that can affect conceptualchange, such as motivational factors and learning strategies. In an effort to understand therelationship between intentionality and conceptual change, a five-year NSF-funded CAREERgrant study is currently in progress to examine these intentional factors and how they impactconceptual change. While we anticipate broader applicability, this study will focus on conceptuallearning in the thermal sciences. The full study will utilize qualitative and quantitative methodsto look at the intentional factors that students engage in that affect conceptual change inthermodynamics. The study is firmly grounded in motivation and conceptual change theories. This paper focuses on the development of a survey instrument for use in the quantitativeportion of this study that measures motivation, learning strategies and conceptual change.Because there are already a number of reliable and valid instruments that measure motivationconstructs, the first section of this paper discusses the selection process for choosing appropriatescales to use in our instruments to measure motivational constructs such as self-efficacy,identification with academics, instrumentality, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and others. Inthe second section of the paper, we discuss the selection process for instruments to measurelearning strategies. Although there are existing instruments that measure learning strategies wequestioned the direct applicability to undergraduate thermodynamics. Therefore, we used afocus group study with thermodynamics students to inform revisions to existing learningstrategies survey instruments to make them more appropriate for problem solving courses inengineering. In the third section of the paper, we discuss the use of the Thermal TransportConcept Inventory and how specific questions were selected for our instrument. Finally, weincorporate the outcomes from analysis of pilot data for our survey instrument and theimprovements made to the survey for final implementation. We believe our work in developing this instrument to measure the intentional factors thataffect conceptual change in thermodynamics is meaningful to the ERM community in severalways. First, this study presents a method of using existing survey scales to develop a largerinstrument for a specific research purpose. Second, the structure of this instrument is applicablefor use in other problem solving type engineering courses. Third, the learning strategies portionof this instrument provides information on learning strategies used in problem solvingengineering environments.

McCord, R., & Matusovich, H. M. (2013, June), Developing an Instrument to Measure Motivation, Learning Strategies and Conceptual Change Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19406

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