June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Minorities in Engineering
14.917.1 - 14.917.17
Nurture Motivated, Confident, and Strategic Learners in Engineering through Cognitive and Psychological Instructions for an Entry-Level Course
There is a disconnection between teaching specific domain contents and developing effective cognitive skills for students in current engineering education. This disconnection makes it difficult for students to apply effective cognitive strategies for their learning in specific engineering domain. Students who failed in their engineering studies may attribute their failures to lack of ability in learning engineering rather than a lack of effective use of cognitive strategies. They may decide to quit from engineering programs due to frustrations from their setbacks in learning. As students from minority groups are interested in learning engineering, the challenge is to nurture their interest, maintain their efforts, and strengthen their confidence that they can succeed. Thus, there is an imperative need for engineering faculty to adapt new instructional strategies that can help students to effectively regulate their learning motivation, strategies, and efforts, particularly at their early learning stages.
Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) has been research subject and educational practice in the context of Educational Psychology. SRL involves self-monitoring and self-correction of three components of learning: motivation, behavior, and cognition. It refers to active learning guided by three important aspects of learning: (1) motivation to learn; (2) metacognition (awareness of one’s knowledge and beliefs); and (3) strategic action (planning, evaluating, and acting). One important aspect in SRL is to regulate the learners’ motivation. Psychological instruction model of Expandable Intelligence (EI) is established based on new psychological findings that learners’ belief on their intelligence has a profound influence on their motivation to learn. With the belief that intelligence can be expanded (as opposed to the view of fixed intelligence), learners are able to attribute their successes or failures to factors within their control (e.g. effective use of strategies, or effort on a task) rather than lack of ability. They can be motivated to use learning strategies and persist in their learning efforts for expanding their intelligence.
This paper presents relevant development and findings from cognitive science and education practice on motivation and self-regulated learning, and proposes a new instructional strategy and its implementation plan for a freshmen entry-level course. It includes Direct Instruction that presents the EI and SRL model, as well as related strategies, to students as stand-along learning contents; and Immersion Instruction that merges the instruction based on EI and SRL as salient cues and scaffold into Problem/Project-Based Learning (PBL) process through a co-curricular design project. The course project requires freshmen to identify a problem and provide innovative technological solutions that could impact and improve students’ studies and lives around campus. Students will be given sufficient time and autonomy to identify problems, learn required knowledge through SRL, and formulate innovative solutions in a way that not only engages them but also is relevant to their particular learning level and interest. The outcomes from pilot implementation indicated that the proposed instruction strategies could improve students’ perception on self-regulated learning and innovative-problem solving through Problem/Project-Based Learning pedagogy, and promote students to seek and practice the learning strategies. The proposed instruction strategies could be transferable for other courses to facilitate students to become motivated, confident, and strategic learners in engineering.
Zheng, W., & Skelton, G., & Shih, H., & Leggette, E., & Pei, T. (2009, June), Nurture Motivated, Confident, And Strategic Learners In Engineering Through Cognitive And Psychological Instruction For An Entry Level Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5222
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