June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Educational Research and Methods
14.500.1 - 14.500.13
Does Major Matter? A Look at what Motivates Engineering Students in Different Majors Abstract
We have found that students’ engineering major does matter when looking at what motivates them to study engineering. This may lead to support programs that are better tailored to the students they serve. In addition, these findings may be important in shaping engineering curricula to attract and retain students of different majors.
Using data from the Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey (APPLES), a national survey of 21 institutions aimed at identifying and characterizing undergraduate students’ motivations to study engineering. Using demographic information about engineering major, year in school, and gender, we have determined there are statistically significant differences in the motivational factors between women and men and between students of different majors. The six engineering majors that we compared include: mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial, aerospace and bioX (a compilation of biology-related majors).
Using t-tests and analysis of variance tests (ANOVAs), the trends across majors and gender for intrinsic psychological motivation, intrinsic behavioral motivation, social good motivation, financial motivation, mentor influence motivation, and parental motivation to study engineering were explored.
Our findings show that there are significant differences in the level of motivation for students of different engineering majors. For men, the level of intrinsic behavioral motivation to study engineering is significantly lower for industrial engineering students than for mechanical or aerospace engineering students. For women, the levels of intrinsic behavioral, intrinsic psychological, and financial motivation vary greatly according to engineering major. These findings suggest treating these groups individually when considering motivational factors of undergraduate engineering students.
In this paper a comparative analysis of motivational factors by engineering major is presented to shed light on how various dimensions of the undergraduate engineering experience may be different for students in different majors.
We are interested in looking at motivation for several reasons. The goals of the NSF-funded Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE) were to “identify ways to boost the numbers of students who complete engineering degrees (including increasing the numbers of women and traditionally underrepresented groups)” and to “better support those enrolled in engineering programs”1,2 Identifying similarities and differences between groups of engineering students would provide useful information to those trying to support these students and may lead to a better understanding of women engineering students.
Parikh, S., & Chen, H., & Donaldson, K., & Sheppard, S. (2009, June), Does Major Matter? A Look At What Motivates Engineering Students In Different Majors Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5283
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