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Student Motivation in a Peer Designed and Delivered Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session


Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Meagan R. Kendall University of Texas, El Paso

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Dr. Meagan R. Kendall received her PhD from The University of Texas at Austin where her research focused on the design of a low-cost, volume adjustable prosthetic socket. Now an Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at El Paso, she is helping develop a new Engineering Leadership Program to help students to bridge the gap between traditional engineering education and what they will really experience in industry. Her research interests span the areas of engineering education, biomechanics, and product design methodology.

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Michele Carolynn Williams University of Texas, El Paso

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Background in Industrial & Systems Engineering with 15 years of experience, 7+ years of secondary STEM education, and currently Assistant Director at UT El Paso, grant administrator, creating and offering new engineering education courses for K-12 STEM teachers.
Graduate degrees in both Engineering and Education. Doctoral student at the dissertation stage. Research interests include: STEM focused schools and initiatives, Best practices for K-12 Engineering Education for the 21st century, college readiness, and general STEM education reform, policy and practice.

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This research paper delves into the impact that a unique, student-centered learning experience has on student motivation. Educators often attempt to focus on instructional tools that enhance motivation to excite students about learning and encourage them to become self-taught, lifelong learners. Under the assumption that students understand what motivates their peers best, a team of students, supervised by faculty, designed and taught an introduction to engineering course. This pedagogical approach, coined Peer Designed Instruction (PDI), proved useful and was maintained in this introduction to engineering course.

Couched in the Collaborative Learning literature, PDI deviates from current collaborative learning approaches in one notable way: the authority in the classroom shifts from the faculty member(s) to Student Instructors (SI). These Student Instructors are students that previously completed the course and returned to take on the responsibility for the design and delivery of learning experiences in the classroom. Faculty, therefore, assume a coaching role with the SIs and no longer act as the source of knowledge, educational material, and content delivery for the course.

This research paper delves into the impact that this learning experience has on student motivation. Using a survey developed based on the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation Inventory®, the authors asked students to report their level of motivation in the introduction to engineering course implementing PDI as compared to their general university experience. Students reported a higher level of motivation in the MUSIC constructs of empowerment, success, and caring for the course using PDI and the same level in the areas of usefulness and interest. When comparing SI’s vs. Non-SI’s, no statistically significant difference in motivation was reported. When considering gender, there was no statistically significant difference between female and male respondents in the scales of empowerment and success. Female identifying students did feel that that the course implementing PDI was more useful than male identifying students. Similarly, female students felt that both the intro and the other courses were more interesting than male students. Finally, female students thought the intro course was more caring than the male students. Overall, students surveyed reported that they liked PDI. As a result of this study, enabling students to be instructors is a viable approach for improving student motivation in introductory engineering courses.

Kendall, M. R., & Williams, M. C. (2017, June), Student Motivation in a Peer Designed and Delivered Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28861

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