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Student Motivation and Self-efficacy in Entrepreneurial-minded Learning (EML): What These Mean for Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Classrooms

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Erin A. Henslee Wake Forest University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Erin Henslee is a Founding Faculty and Assistant Professor of Engineering at Wake Forest University. Her research spans biomedical engineering, e-sports, and STEM education. Prior to joining Wake Forest she was a Researcher Development Officer at the University of Surrey where she supported Early Career Researchers. She received her BS degrees in Engineering Science and Mechanics and Mathematics from Virginia Tech, her MS degree in Biomedical Engineering from the joint program between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University, and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Surrey.

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Lauren Lowman Wake Forest University Orcid 16x16

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Lauren Lowman is a Founding Faculty member and an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Department at Wake Forest University and has served in this role since 2018. In this role, she has developed new interdisciplinary curriculum that bridges engineering fields and reflects the Wake Forest University motto of Pro Humanitate ("For Humanity"). Lauren received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus in Hydrology and Fluid Dynamics from Duke University, and a B.A. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University. Her research investigates how extreme events affect overall ecosystem health, productivity, and sustainability using numerical models, geospatial data analysis, and field experiments. She is also passionate about developing and sharing inclusive teaching practices in STEM fields and received a 2020 Engineering Unleashed Fellowship from the Kern Family Foundation to support this work.

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Michael D. Gross Wake Forest University

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Dr. Michael Gross is a Founding Faculty and Associate Professor of Engineering at Wake Forest University and is part of the team that is planning, developing, and delivering the brand new Engineering program. The Engineering department is viewed as an opportunity to break down silos across campus and creatively think about reimagining the undergraduate engineering educational experience, integration and collaboration across departments and programs, and how to achieve the motto of Wake Forest University: Pro Humanitate (“For Humanity”). Michael received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University, and his Masters and PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He has broad research interests in materials and composite processing and design, primarily for solid oxide fuel cells, but also for batteries, solar absorbers, and gas adsorption. However, he also has a passion for designing educational experiences that support student intrinsic motivation. Using the Situational Motivation Scale (SIMS), Basic Needs Satisfaction (BNS) survey, and cluster analysis, Gross helps faculty understand the types of motivations their students are experiencing and practical, effective strategies for making positive shifts in student motivation.

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Anita K. McCauley Wake Forest University

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This Work-in-Progress paper reports on the development and deployment of active learning classroom experiences designed to support student entrepreneurial mindset (EM), self-efficacy, and motivation. The activities were designed for two core undergraduate engineering courses, Computational Modeling in Engineering and Control Systems and Instrumentation, typically completed in the junior year. The design of the course activities was guided by (1) the “three C’s” of the Kern Engineering Entrepreneurial Network (KEEN) framework: Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value and (2) four inclusive classroom practices: representation, safe spaces for failure, promoting collaboration over competition, and supporting student autonomy.

The Computational Modeling in Engineering activities implemented a Problem Solving Studio (PSS) pedagogy that introduced students to the contributions of scientists, mathematicians and engineers from traditionally underrepresented groups. In the 21st century, an undergraduate student can complete a 4-year degree in STEM without encountering a minority instructor, without reading a textbook written by a minority academic scholar, and without learning a theory proposed by a minority scientist. The PSS activities are intended to provide students with the opportunity to see different aspects of their identities represented in contributions to STEM fields, allowing them to see themselves as creators and innovators. Student motivation as it relates to engaging in these inclusive activities was measured using the Situational Motivation Scale (SIMS).

The Control Systems and Instrumentation activities employed the PSS approach in scaffolding experiences with “Making” activities. The literature suggests that “Making” activities and other hands-on learning opportunities increase student self-efficacy and have positive effects on retention of minority students, particularly into postgraduate studies. Here we focus on assessing the short-term effects of “Making” activities. Assessment included pre- and post-student self-efficacy surveys with three distinct areas of measurement: general self-efficacy, self-efficacy in course outcomes, and self-efficacy in EM-related constructs.

Preliminary data suggests that inclusive PSS activities resulted in positive student motivational responses comprising high levels of identified regulation and external regulation, with moderate levels of intrinsic motivation. Relative to the average motivational response of the entire class, underrepresented student responses were more positive, with high levels of intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, and external regulation. Student self-efficacy in the instrumentation course was shown to increase with daily “Making” activities. Data collected in future iterations of the course will enable a more robust instrument validation across sections and cohorts.

Henslee, E. A., & Lowman, L., & Gross, M. D., & McCauley, A. K. (2021, July), Student Motivation and Self-efficacy in Entrepreneurial-minded Learning (EML): What These Mean for Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Classrooms Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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