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Examining STEM Learning Motivation Challenges in Undergraduate Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Andrea Ofori-Boadu North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (CoE)

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Dr. Andrea Nana Ofori-Boadu is an Associate Professor of Construction Science and Management with the Department of Built Environment within the College of Science and Technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Her passion is to utilize her God-given talents to advance sustainability in construction materials, processes, and workforce development. Andrea has over 20 years of occupational experience, with her most recent experience being in teaching, research, and service. Dr. Ofori-Boadu is a dedicated instructor, advisor, mentor, and role model who has served over 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students.
Andrea has received almost $2M from funding agencies to include the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Engineering Information Foundation (EIF), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the National Housing Endowment (NHE), and East Coast Construction Services (ECCS). In 2019, she received her prestigious NSF CAREER grant to construct substantive theories that explain professional identity development processes in undergraduate architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) women in the United States. In 2020, Dr. Ofori-Boadu received a National Science Foundation (NSF-RAPID) grant award to gain insights into undergraduate STEM student decision-making processes during pandemics. Through seed funds from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Department of Education (Title III) and Center of Product Design and Advanced Manufacturing (CEPDAM) grants, she investigated the utilization of agricultural waste bio-chars for partial cement replacement resulting in a patent (U.S. Patent No. 11,104,611; August 31, 2021).
Her research work has resulted in numerous citations, publications, presentations, and website references such as on the International Bio-char Initiative website. In 2021, Dr. Ofori-Boadu was chosen by the NC A & T Center of Excellence for Product Design and Advanced Manufacturing (CEPDAM) to showcase her research work in a promotional video series named “Women in Design and Manufacturing” during the Women’s History Month. Andrea has received several teaching, mentoring, and research excellence awards to include the 2021 Outstanding College of Science and Technology Faculty STEMinist Mentoring Award, the 2020 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Outstanding Educator Award, the 2020 NC A & T Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, and the 2019 NC A & T Outstanding Young Investigator Research Excellence Award. Dr. Ofori-Boadu is currently the Director of the year-round Professional Development Program for undergraduate Architecture, Engineering, and Construction women and the STEAM ACTIVATED! Program for middle-school girls at NC A & T. Andrea is married to Victor Ofori-Boadu and they are blessed with three wonderful children.

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Rabiatu Bonku

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Mercy Fash

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Jennifer Richmond-Bryant North Carolina State University at Raleigh

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Alesia Ferguson

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Examining Learning Motivation Challenges (LMCs) Experienced by Undergraduate STEM Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global educational systems with institutions transitioning to e-learning. Undergraduate STEM students complained about lowered motivation to learn and complete STEM course requirements. To better prepare for more effective STEM education delivery during high-risk conditions such as pandemics, it is important to understand the learning motivation challenges (LMCs) experienced by students. As part of a larger national research study investigating decision-making in undergraduate STEM students during COVID-19, the purpose of this research is to examine LMCs experienced by undergraduate STEM students. One hundred and ninety students from six U.S. institutions participated in Qualtrics-based surveys. Utilizing a five-point Likert scale, respondents ranked the extent to which they agreed to LMC statements. Using Qualtrics Data Analysis tools and MS Excel, data from 130 useable surveys was analyzed utilizing descriptive and inferential statistics.

Results revealed that regardless of classification, GPA, age, or race, STEM students experienced LMCs. The top five LMCs were: (1) Assignment Overloads; (2) Lack of In-Person Peer Interactions; (3) Uncaring Professors; (4) Lack of In-Person Professor Interactions; and (5) Lack of In-Person Laboratory Experiences. Significant relationships existed between three characteristics (GPA, classification, and age) and few LMCs to include assignment overloads. Students tended to attribute lowered motivation to Institutional and Domestic challenges which were typically out of their control, rather than to Personal challenges which were typically within their control. Crosstab analysis suggested that Sophomores, Asians, as well as students with GPAs between 2.00 and 2.49 and aged 41 to 50 years may be the most vulnerable due to higher dependence on traditional in-person STEM educational environments. Early identification of the most vulnerable students should be quickly followed by interventions. Increased attention towards sophomores may reduce exacerbation of potential sophomore slump and middle-child syndrome. All STEM students require critical domestic, institutional, and personal resources. Institutions should strengthen students’ self-regulation skills and provide increased opportunities for remote peer interactions. Training of faculty and administrators is critical to build institutional capacity to motivate and educate STEM students with diverse characteristics in e-learning environments. Pass/fail policies should be carefully designed and implemented to minimize negative impacts on motivation. Employers should expand orientation and mentoring programs for entry-level employees, particularly for laboratory-based tasks. Research is needed to improve the delivery of STEM laboratory e-learning experiences. Findings inform future research, as well as best practices for improved institutional adaptability and resiliency. These will minimize disruptions to student functioning and performance, reduce attrition, and strengthen progression into the STEM workforce during high-risk conditions such as pandemics. With caution, findings may be extended to non-STEM and non-student populations.

Keywords STEM, Motivation, Learning, Performance, emergency, COVID-19, pandemic

Ofori-Boadu, A., & Bonku, R., & Fash, M., & Richmond-Bryant, J., & Ferguson, A. (2022, August), Examining STEM Learning Motivation Challenges in Undergraduate Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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