June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.560.1 - 26.560.10
Does Motivation Matter for Conceptual Change: Developing Effective Qualitative Research ApproachesDespite considerable research in engineering education, there is still much to uncover with regard to howstudents learn, what they learn, and why they learn it. While there is a wealth of data on cognition,metacognition, and teaching strategies (all examples of the how), and misconceptions, conceptual changeand curriculum development (all examples of the what), the research on motivation (example of the why)still remains understudied by comparison. Epistemologically sound qualitative research approaches tostudy complex learning and motivation interactions are likewise underrepresented in engineeringeducation research. As part of a larger study to understand motivation and conceptual change, ourcurrent research project sits at the intersection of the underrepresented topics of motivation for learningand qualitative modes of research. The purpose of our research was to answer the question: Whatinterview methods reveal motivation for conceptual understanding during engineering problem solvingthink-aloud type sessions? We focused on think-aloud type interview approaches because they arepopular modes for examining students’ conceptual knowledge, yet their utility in simultaneouslydemonstrating motivation is not established.We analyzed two different think-aloud approaches where specific motivation questions were not asked inthe first data set but were asked in the second data set. In the first approach, existing think-aloud problemsolving interviews, in which the participants were NOT specifically asked questions about motivation,were analyzed with an intent of uncovering the “organic” utterances related to motivation emergent instudent self-talk during problem solving. Drawing on our theoretical framework for IntentionalConceptual Change, we used open coding of the data to reveal instances of unprompted motivation-related utterances. In the second approach, we specifically asked motivation questions during interviewsin which participants were asked to think aloud while solving a problem and discuss the learningstrategies in which they engage. Multiple questions drawing on existing motivation constructs (e.g.,interest, efficacy, and values) were asked. The interview questions allowed an a priori coding schemeanalysis of motivation factors.Our findings demonstrated that each think-aloud approach was problematic; in both cases the interviewcontext and dialog are critically important and can directly shape motivation. While problem solvinginterviews offer a window into the mind of the problem solver, we must recall that it is still a socialactivity where the interviewer and interviewee are engaged in a dialog and react to each other. Thus, theyare co-constructing the solution to the problem implicitly if not explicitly. Therefore, we suggest ablended approach where think-aloud protocols are used to capture organic utterances but also includespecific questions regarding motivation in the context of the interview. This research lays a foundationfor future work by helping us determine what questions to ask participants and how to ask them in orderto tease apart their motivational beliefs and learning strategies for specific content-related problemsolving. Recommendations include interviewer training on how to ask follow-up questions to motivation-related utterances and post-task questions about the perceived context of the task.
Matusovich, H. M., & McCord, R. E., & Carrico, C., & Smalls, D. A., & Brown, P. R. (2015, June), Does Motivation Matter for Conceptual Change? Developing Effective Qualitative Research Approaches Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23898
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