July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Educational Research and Methods
Introductory engineering mechanics courses (e.g., statics, dynamics) are critical courses within a curriculum, and student performance in these courses can have a strong influence on future success. As a result, such courses must help students develop the motivation and interest needed to persist through their engineering education. One particularly promising tool for this development has been Utility Value Interventions (UVIs) in which students are given opportunities to express how course content is personally useful to them. But while UVIs have been used successfully in subjects such as biology and psychology, their use in engineering contexts remains limited to date. Further, while research has demonstrated the effectiveness of UVIs, the specific content of student responses to them remains relatively underexplored. To address these gaps, we implemented a series of UVIs in an engineering statics course. The purpose of this paper is to explore the specific content of student responses to UVIs and to examine how students make connections between their values and their learning in statics. In the fall 2020 term, we distributed UVIs in which we asked students to describe their own values and articulate personal connections to the course content. We used thematic analysis in combination with in-vivo and descriptive coding to characterize student responses and better understand how they make connections between their personal values and the content they learn in class. Three dominant themes emerged from student responses: 1) Self-improvement; 2) Empathy/Kindness and 3) Helping. These themes provide a better understanding of the kinds of values that are important to students and offer insight into their interest and motivation as it relates to learning statics. Given the abstract, decontextualized mode in which engineering sciences are typically taught, instructors can work to foster these personal connections and enhance student motivation and success in foundational areas of an engineering curriculum. In particular, our results point to the importance of connecting engineering content to students’ experiences beyond the statics classroom. To cultivate student interest, including discussions or assignments that integrate these values can benefit students who might be struggling to find personal relevance to their engineering curriculum.
Ruiz, L. L., & Trageser, D., & Lutz, B. D. (2021, July), Exploring Student Responses to Utility-value Interventions in Engineering Statics Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37147
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