Asee peer logo

Development of Student Motivation in a Required Electrical Engineering (EE) Course for Non-EE Majors

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Assessment of Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.430.1 - 24.430.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Alexander Ganago University of Michigan

author page

Sudarshan Sivaramakrishnan University of Michigan


Robert Matthew DeMonbrun University of Michigan

visit author page

Matt DeMonbrun is a Ph.D. Student with the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan concentrating in Academic Affairs and Student Development. He currently serves as a Graduate Student Research Assistant with the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education at the Center. Matt has previously presented on topics such as student development theory, restorative justice, and social justice. His research interests include moral development, moral reasoning, academic motivation, and teaching and learning practices in engineering fields.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Development of student motivation in a required Electrical Engineering (EE) course for non-EE majorsThe main challenge of teaching a required course is the low interest and lack of motivationamong the students who take it outside of their fields of major. Having set the course outcome toempower students to apply their learning of EE to further non-EE studies and work, we strive toovercome their negative attitudes to the course by helping students see the value of new learningfor their success in their major fields. In this particular study, we focus on students’ motivation totake and succeed in EE course, and on the development of their motivation during the semester.Our goal is to identify teaching strategies, student experiences, and singular events, whichpositively (or negatively) affected the students’ motivation to learn EE.We conduct a longitudinal study, which includes online surveys (combining quantitative andqualitative methods) and semi-structured interviews throughout the semester, and aspire to detectcausal inference (beyond statistic correlation) between the particulars of the course and thestudents’ motivation. In engineering education, very little has been done in this direction; thuswe use the methods developed in other fields, including: Ø Social studies (previously validated survey questions focused on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, perceived competence – a strong indicator of intrinsic motivation, and development of interest in the application of course topics, etc.) Ø Medical research (where data on the pre-existing conditions and the effects of treatment are collected and analyzed for individual patients whose identity is not revealed).Our research team includes members from the College of Engineering and from the School ofEducation; their combined expertise provides a new dimension to our studies.Our Conference report will be based on the materials, which we are collecting during the Fall2013 semester in a class of 190 students, including: Ø Mechanical (57%), Aerospace (19%), Nuclear (10%), IOE (4%), etc.; Ø Juniors (64%), Seniors (33%), and Sophomores (3%).We plan to present the statistical analysis along with insightful case stories and statements byindividual students, and identify the teaching strategies and events influential for students’motivation, interest, and achievement in learning. At the time of this writing, we have analyzedthe results of first 2 surveys (166 and 156 respondents), and are planning several follow-upsurveys along with focus groups and individual interviews. The results of our findings areformative: they are promptly used in teaching the class. For example, before the beginning of thesemester, we provided a list of course topics and asked students to identify those of interest; theirranking of particular topics was in stark contrast with similar ranking by engineering faculty.This is a clear message for the instructor to enforce the course with the materials that wouldconvince the students in relevance and importance of EE concepts and tools for other fields ofengineering. Our ultimate goal is to identify the strategies for successful teaching of courses fornon-EE majors at Engineering Schools throughout the country.

Ganago, A., & Sivaramakrishnan, S., & DeMonbrun, R. M. (2014, June), Development of Student Motivation in a Required Electrical Engineering (EE) Course for Non-EE Majors Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20321

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015