June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.1173.1 - 26.1173.15
Moving from Quantitative to Qualitative Analysis to Capture the Development of Self-‐Directed Learning for a Cohort of Engineering Students In efforts to understand and describe the development of self-‐directed learning (SDL) of engineering students, two universities studied cohorts of students over a two-‐year period using quantitative survey data and qualitative focus groups and reflective writing. This mixed-‐methods study investigates college students’ SDL skills, attitudes, and beliefs over time, beginning with the start of their first year, and continuing throughout their second year and beyond. Quantitative data on SDL competencies were gathered from validated surveys (e.g., AMS, LOGO II, MAI and Learning Inventory) for a cohort of students at a large public university, and the data were compared to another cohort at a small private college. Qualitative data were collected via six focus group sessions with varying student participation over time, as well as from reflective writing exercises administered from a 2nd year engineering course. The qualitative data were coded for indicators of SDL, such as reflective capacity, help seeking, self-‐assessment of performance and resilience. While some significant differences in the quantitative survey data were measured between the two institutions, the resulting data showed surprisingly small changes in SDL competencies over the two years. Analysis of qualitative student response data, however, revealed several interesting, new aspects to self-‐directed learner growth, and led to a richer picture of the complexity involved with student SDL development. Qualitative investigation was then extended into the third year of the cohort. Specifically, the qualitative analysis revealed a complicated interplay of student perceptions of grades, open-‐ended problems, uncertainty around failure, instructor role, career goals, and professional identity. Students lamented the way that open-‐ended work offered opportunities for professional growth but did not always positively impact their grades. Others reported tensions stemming from the need to maintain appropriate grade point averages (GPAs) and their own desires to shift from grade orientation to learning orientation. The group showed varied perceptions about the role of the instructor to their growth as lifelong learners and valued those professors who exhibited industry experience. The focus groups also display the dynamics of students reflecting with one another and forming their own individual academic and professional identities. Some articulated that the opportunity for the focus group afforded them a chance for growth in metacognitive capacity. The study attempts to illustrate how student goals, priorities, and identities as developing college engineering students connect with aspects of curriculum, instructor pedagogy, and institutional culture and constraints. By addressing students’ relationships to curriculum, instructor and learning culture, the study offers valuable insights for those designing engineer programs and to individual instructors interested in developing the self-‐directed learning capacities of their students.
Chen, K. C., & Stolk, J. D., & Herter, R. J. (2015, June), Moving from Quantitative to Qualitative Analysis to Capture the Development of Self-Directed Learning for a Cohort of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24510
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