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Learning From Freshman Perspectives: A Two Dimensional Approach To Increasing Student Satisfaction

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.677.1 - 6.677.9

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Paper Authors

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Fredrick Jones

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Charlene Yauch

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

Learning from Freshman Perspectives: A Two-Dimensional Approach to Increasing Student Satisfaction

Charlene A. Yauch, Fredrick H. Jones

Oklahoma State University


Improving retention of engineering students often depends on their experiences in core mathematics and science courses during their freshman year of college. For this research, freshman students enrolled in an introductory engineering design course at a large midwestern university were asked to identify five ways in which their Calculus or Chemistry course could be redesigned. Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory (1966) is used as an interpretive framework to examine the student’s perspectives on how to improve these core courses within the engineering curriculum. The student’s suggestions for course redesign were classified into motivation and hygiene factors. The results show that a majority of the suggestions involved extrinsic hygiene factors such as reducing class size, and providing more comfortable chairs and larger tables. Fewer responses were received related to intrinsic motivation factors such as course content. This finding points to the need for a two-dimensional approach to increasing student satisfaction. Although Herzberg cautions that the effects of improved hygiene are of short duration, educators should not disregard their role in student satisfaction by focusing exclusively on intrinsic motivation factors.


Core courses in mathematics and science have a significant impact on the retention of engineering students. For students majoring in science, mathematics, and engineering, the greatest attrition occurs between the freshman and sophomore years1. Learning more about students’ perceptions of their core courses will enable us to improve these courses, as well as positively influence the retention of engineering students. For this research, freshman students in a large introductory engineering design course were asked to identify five ways in which their Calculus, Chemistry, or Physics course could be redesigned. The question was asked as part of a regular weekly homework assignment. The students were subsequently asked to voluntarily submit their answers for research purposes. Due to the low number of responses pertaining to Physics, this course was removed from the investigation. Initial analysis of the students’ suggestions for redesign revealed a strong emphasis on environmental factors that had little to do with the content of the courses or the material they were expected to learn. Based on this observation, we decided to use Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory as an interpretive framework.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Jones, F., & Yauch, C. (2001, June), Learning From Freshman Perspectives: A Two Dimensional Approach To Increasing Student Satisfaction Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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