Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Educational Research and Methods
This research paper reports the validation of instruments for assessing engineering students’ motivational attitudes and behaviors in their capstone design course. Motivation plays a key role in engineering practice, particularly with respect to students’ efficiency and effectiveness as well as their capability to engage in teamwork either in the capstone course or the workplace. The 2013 ASEE report on Transforming Undergraduate Education of Engineers has identified five personal and professional abilities to be developed in the capstone course, one of which is motivation. Prior research confirmed the need for professional skills which are usually not effectively developed in engineering graduates. There is a need to assess students’ motivation in engineering programs in order to form foundations for curriculum improvement.
For our project, we designed several assessment instruments. This paper focuses on two instruments, motivational attitudes and behaviors. Our instruments are different from existing ones by the fact that they emphasize projects in capstone design courses which provide more authentic setting for engineering experiences. One of the Likert scale instruments consists of 20 intrinsic and extrinsic motivational attitudes. The other includes 20 motivational behaviors grouped into five categories: work quality and quantity, level of supervision, team effectiveness, initiative, and self-development. The behaviors instrument also includes a peer evaluation of the above-mentioned five areas. The instruments were designed after reviewing the literature for motivation constructs in capstone courses, several rounds of workshops with faculty from different institutions, industry inputs, and results of a pilot study with an initial version of the instrument on a group of 124 students at a large mid-western university. For the current validation, the attitudes instrument was administered via Qualtrics to 303 students during the first few weeks of their capstone course. The participants were from six institutions, ranging from large public universities to small private colleges including all female and historically black universities. The participants spent an average of 10 minutes to complete the instrument. We calculated the reliability index of the instrument for the extent to which the measurements are repeatable, and the item discrimination index for the extent to which the items can distinguish highly motivated students from poorly motivated ones. Statistical validation of the instrument yielded a reliability index of 0.71 (desired range: ≥ 0.7) and item discrimination index ≥ 0.3 (the ideal range) for 14 of the 20 items. These results indicate that the instrument is marginally reliable for group measurement and most of the motivational attitude items allow us to distinguish between students who are highly and weakly motivated. The research team will make small modifications to the six items with the lowest discrimination scores to make them more specific to capstone courses and re-validate them after the second application of this instrument.
Successful attainment of reliable and valid instruments provides the foundation for potential curriculum changes in the design and teaching of capstone courses to improve motivational growth and better prepare students for careers.
Ibrahim, B., & Rogers, P., & Davis, D. C., & Ding, L., & Ash, K. (2018, June), Motivational Attitudes and Behaviors in Capstone Projects: Quantitative Validation of Assessment Instruments Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30825
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