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Engineering Student Motivation and Perceived Metacognition in Learning Communities

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Student Beliefs, Motivation and Self Efficacy

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.504.1 - 24.504.21



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Paper Authors

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Courtney June Faber Clemson University


Sarah Jane Grigg Clemson University

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Dr. Sarah J. Grigg is a lecturer in the general engineering department at Clemson University. Her research interests involve factors influencing problem solving, such as cognitive processes, metacognition, and mental workload.

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Adam Kirn Clemson University Orcid 16x16

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Justine M. Chasmar


Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is an associate professor in the department of engineering and science education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in the department of bioengineering. Her research interests include assessment of motivation, how motivation affects student learning, and student-centered active learning. She is also involved in projects that utilize tablet PCs to enhance and assess learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and math classrooms. Dr. Benson teaches introductory undergraduate engineering, biomechanics and graduate engineering-education courses. Her education includes a B.S. in bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Learning Communities (LCs) have been implemented in universities throughout the United States toimprove undergraduate educational experiences. These communities have been shown to have positiveeffects on student integration, engagement, academic success, and persistence; however, little researchhas examined how LCs influence the affective domain. An LC is a community of practice, defined as agroup of people engaging in collective learning in a shared domain. Within a community of practice thereexist shared cultures, values, and goals, suggesting that LCs influence the affective domain. The goal ofthis research is to examine the effect of two LCs on engineering student motivation and perceivedmetacognitive strategies.Members of an honors community (HC) and a science and engineering community (SEC) who were alsoenrolled in a first-year engineering (FYE) course at a southeastern land grant university participated inthis study. HC students must be accepted into the Honors College and meet minimum academic standardsto live in the HC common dormitory. SEC students apply for housing in a common dormitory with in-halltutoring and planned group social activities, but have no academic requirement. There are sections of theFYE course reserved for members of each of these LCs.A survey was administered at the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester to all students in the FYE course.Of the 1094 students surveyed, 297 were in the SEC, 126 were in the HC, and 671 were in other sectionsopen to all engineering students. This 82-item survey included previously established items onmetacognition (planning, monitoring, evaluation, procedural knowledge, declarative knowledge, andconditional knowledge) and motivation (goal orientation, self-efficacy, future time perspective, andexpectancy-value). Items were five point, anchored Likert-type items except self-efficacy items, whichwere on a 100 point response scale.Preliminary results indicate differences between students in the SEC, HC, and non-LC sections in threesurvey constructs (perceptions of the present, procedural knowledge, and evaluation). Survey responseswere analyzed using ANOVA and LSMeans contrasts (α=0.05). HC students reported significantly lowerpresent perceptions than non-LC and SEC students. This construct reflects students’ attitudes towardsmaterial in their FYE course in terms of its usefulness in relation to their future. This may indicate thatmany honors students do not perceive the FYE course to be useful for their future beyond meetingrequirements for academic advancement. SEC students reported significantly lower perceivedmetacognitive procedural knowledge (knowledge about how to use strategies) than non-LC and HCstudents and significantly lower perceived use of metacognitive evaluation than non-LC students.Students who do not feel they know how to use strategies or evaluate their answers may choose to joinand participate in the SEC for support. Future research will use an end-of-semester survey to assesswhether these perceptions changed over the term.These results suggests that the SEC students might benefit from workshops focused on improvingprocedural knowledge and evaluation of their work, and HC students might benefit from more explicitconnections between coursework and work done by engineers.

Faber, C. J., & Grigg, S. J., & Kirn, A., & Chasmar, J. M., & Benson, L. (2014, June), Engineering Student Motivation and Perceived Metacognition in Learning Communities Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20395

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