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Investigating Potential Gender Differences in First-Year Engineering Students’ Academic Motivation and Homework Submission Behavior

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Cara Mawson Rowan University

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Cara is a graduate student pursuing her Ph.D. in Experiential Engineering Education (ExEEd) at Rowan University. Her research focuses on the relationship between gamification and motivation in undergraduate engineering students. Previously she earned a B.S. in Physics where she performed research in biophysics, astrophysics, and cosmology. In addition, she has taught science, computer science, and technology through Project Lead The Way at a middle school in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Cheryl A Bodnar Rowan University

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Dr. Bodnar is an Associate Professor in the Experiential Engineering Education Department at Rowan University. Her research interests relate to the incorporation of active learning techniques such as game-based learning in undergraduate classes as well as integration of innovation and entrepreneurship into the engineering curriculum. In particular, she is interested in the impact that these tools can have on student perception of the classroom environment, motivation and learning outcomes. She was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium in 2013, awarded the American Society for Engineering Education Educational Research Methods Faculty Apprentice Award in 2014 and the Raymond W. Fahien Award for Outstanding Teaching Effectiveness and Educational Scholarship presented by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Chemical Engineering Division in 2017.

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Previous studies have shown that there exists a difference in undergraduate students’ academic motivation based on gender. Specifically, females have been shown to be more extrinsically motivated than their male peers in a university setting (D’Lima, et. al, 2014). However, little research has been done to examine the effects of gender relevant to academic motivation in gamified systems. The study of gamification systems is important due to the increase in their use within educational activities. This study leverages the Jones MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation and gamification profiles to answer the research question: How does gender influence student behavior and motivation towards an online gamified homework platform? Academic motivation was determined through student responses to the MUSIC Model survey. Behavior was measured through submission behavior including the number of attempts needed to complete a problem and the frequency of submission. The mastery-based homework portal that was employed in a first-year engineering design course provided data on the number of attempts needed for each student to successfully complete an assignment. In addition, the rate at which students submitted homework assignments within the self-pacing environment was also recorded. This information was utilized to extract gamification profiles to describe the behavior of students over time. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics to determine if any meaningful differences existed. Overall, it was shown that females have consistently higher overall academic motivation scores than males. It was also shown that males have a wider distribution of gamification profiles, ranging from disheartened behavior to overachieving behavior. Females, on the other hand, were more likely to have a consistent homework submission behavior.

[1] D’Lima, Gabrielle & Winsler, Adam & Kitsantas, Anastasia. (2014). Ethnic and Gender Differences in First-Year College Students’ Goal Orientation, Self-Efficacy, and Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation. The Journal of Educational Research.

Mawson, C., & Bodnar, C. A. (2021, July), Investigating Potential Gender Differences in First-Year Engineering Students’ Academic Motivation and Homework Submission Behavior Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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