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Student Lifelong Learning Outcomes for Different Learning Environments

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

They're Not "Soft" Skills!

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1334.1 - 22.1334.17



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Paper Authors


Susan M. Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Coordinator of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, feminist and liberative pedagogies, and student autonomy. Dr. Lord served as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education Conference. She has been awarded NSF CAREER and ILI grants. She is currently working on a collaborative NSF-funded Gender in Science and Engineering project investigating persistence of women in engineering undergraduate programs. Dr. Lord’s industrial experience includes AT&T Bell Laboratories, General Motors Laboratories, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and SPAWAR Systems Center. She served as the President of the IEEE Education Society in 2009 and 2010.

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Candice Stefanou Bucknell University

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Candice is an Associate Professor of Education at Bucknell University. Her teaching interests are in applied measurement and assessment and educational psychology. Her research interests are in motivation and classroom environments.

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Michael J. Prince Bucknell University


John Chen California Polytechnic State University

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John Chen is an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at Cal Poly, which he joined in 2008. Prior to that, he was on the faculty at Rowan University.

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Jonathan D. Stolk Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

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Student Self-Directed Learning Outcomes for Different Learning EnvironmentsCalls for educational reform emphasize the need for student-centered learning approaches thatfoster a capacity for lifelong learning. Lifelong learners exhibit self-regulated behaviors consistentwith those of self-directed learners (SDL). Such learners are characterized as curious, motivated,reflective, analytical, persistent, flexible, and independent. Engineering educators and ABETrecognize that students’ development of SDL aptitudes is vital for their success in today’sengineering environment, and that instructors play a critical role in influencing outcomes related toSDL-development through their course design. Yet there is a critical lack of research examininghow instructor choices promote SDL development in undergraduate engineering students.We are conducting a large study investigating how instructor choices affect a range of studentoutcomes related to their development as self-directed learners. This study examines a variety ofundergraduate engineering courses at four different institutions throughout the U.S. with fourdifferent instructors employing a range of active learning pedagogies. The theoretical frameworkfor our study employs Pintrich’s model for assessing self-regulation, which has within it four areasof self-regulation: (a) cognition, (b) motivation, (c) behavior, and (d) context.Our research question considers “In what ways do engineering instructors assist students to becomeself-directed learners?” The courses involved students from sophomores through seniors.Instructor 1 taught a Heat Transfer course in a problem-based learning format. Instructor 2 used aproject-based learning studio for a Mechanical Engineering elective on Failure Analysis and aMetals and Alloys course. Instructor 3 taught Thermodynamics and Statics courses with in-classproblem solving activities using clickers and peer-to-peer instruction. Instructor 4 taught a Circuitscourse including in-class problem solving activities and semester-long cooperative learninghomework teams.Student outcomes are measured using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire(MSLQ). The MSLQ is a validated self-report instrument that gauges college students’motivational orientations and use of different learning strategies. Dependent groups t-tests wereused to compare within group differences from pre-test to post-test. Effect sizes were calculatedusing Cohen’s d. Preliminary results show some significant differences for student outcomes onseveral subscales of the MSLQ for different instructors. These subscales may be tied back toPintrich’s model. After the problem-based learning course, students reported higher intrinsicmotivation (d = 0.46), elaboration (d=0.28), organization (d=0.56), effort regulation (d=0.93), andpeer learning (d=0.46). After the project-based learning courses, students reported lower task value(d=-1.18) and effort regulation (d=-0.73). After the courses with Instructor 3, students reported anincrease in metacognitive self regulation (0.24). After the course with Instructor 4, studentsreported an increase in organization (0.44).The different ways that students change in different courses suggest that different pedagogiesstudent-centered course structure required self-directed behaviors while the regulation ofinfluence development of certain behaviors related to SDL. For example, perhaps the problem-based learning impacted student development in all four areas in Pintrich’s model because thecognition in Instructor 4’s course might be tied to the structure of class assignments. Analysis ofthese results can help inform other engineering educators about effective ways to help studentsdevelop important SDL behaviors.

Lord, S. M., & Stefanou, C., & Prince, M. J., & Chen, J., & Stolk, J. D. (2011, June), Student Lifelong Learning Outcomes for Different Learning Environments Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18509

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