Asee peer logo

Student Perspectives on Cognitive Engagement: Preliminary Analysis from the Course Social and Cognitive Engagement Surveys

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Cognitive Engagement

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Allyson Jo Barlow Oregon State University

visit author page

Ally Ironside is a recent graduate from LeTourneau University where she studied Water Resources in Civil Engineering. She is currently fusing her technical background with her passion for education in pursuing a doctoral degree in Civil Engineering while conducting research in Engineering Education at Oregon State University. Her research interests include the adoption of teaching best practices in engineering and the personal epistemology development students.

visit author page


Shane A. Brown P.E. Oregon State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Shane Brown is an associate professor and Associate School Head in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. His research interests include conceptual change and situated cognition. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2010 and is working on a study to characterize practicing engineers’ understandings of core engineering concepts. He is a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Engineering Education.

visit author page


Benjamin David Lutz Oregon State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Ben Lutz is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Engineering Education at Oregon State University. His research interests include innovative pedagogies in engineering design, conceptual change and development, school-to-work transitions for new engineers, and efforts for inclusion and diversity within engineering. His current work explores how students describe their own learning in engineering design and how that learning supports transfer of learning from school into professional practice as well as exploring students' conceptions of diversity and its importance within engineering fields.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The following is a research paper centered around the discovery of the meaning of engagement to students and researchers. Increasing student in-class engagement remains a goal of the engineering education community, yet faculty continue to lack tools that allow them to measure their students’ engagement. Development of tools surrounding engagement connects faculty to the best practices emergent from the research. Critical aspects of survey development include not only psychometric validity, but also shared contextual meaning among researchers, educators, and students. That is to say, instruments can have validity and reliability, but might not necessarily provide useful feedback to the faculty using them. The ways in which students’ self-report is one way both faculty and researchers can make meaning of survey responses. As part of a larger research study, we used an innovative model to develop a survey tool to measure student’s in-class cognitive engagement under Chi’s Interactive/Constructive/Active/Passive (ICAP) framework. Students were included in the development process as a means of gaining understanding of their interpretation of survey items. We interviewed student survey participants, asking them to both explain what they believed the survey to be asking them and what actions shaped their responses. The purpose of this paper is to understand potential discrepancies between researcher intention and student interpretation of quantitative survey items. To that aim, we ask the following question: How do students interpret survey items related to in-class cognitive engagement?

Preliminary findings suggest students’ interpretation of items points to a discrepancy between researcher and student meaning of engagement. Though the survey was intended to target in-class engagement, students often conflated their in- and out-of-class engagement behaviors. Moreover, students did not distinguish between language we intended to reflect different levels of cognitive activity. As we continue to develop surveys surrounding engagement, this study gives useful insight into how we can interpret student responses and provide meaningful feedback to faculty. This is accomplished by understanding the ways in which researchers, faculty, and students talk about engagement differently, and how that might lead us towards shared meaning.

Barlow, A. J., & Brown, S. A., & Lutz, B. D. (2018, June), Student Perspectives on Cognitive Engagement: Preliminary Analysis from the Course Social and Cognitive Engagement Surveys Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31014

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015