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Study Context Matters: A Case Study on How Time Crunches Lead to Coping Modes of Learning

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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

Changing the Engineering Classroom

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Rachel McCord Ellestad University of Tennessee, Knoxville Orcid 16x16

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Rachel McCord is a a Lecturer and Research Assistant Professor in the Engineering Fundamentals Division at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include the impact of metacognitive and self-regulated learning development on engineering student success, particularly in the first year.

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Holly M. Matusovich Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Matusovich is an Assistant Professor and Assistant Department Head for Graduate Programs in Virginia Tech’s Department of Engineering Education. She has her doctorate in Engineering Education and her strengths include qualitative and mixed methods research study design and implementation. She is/was PI/Co-PI on 8 funded research projects including a CAREER grant. She has won several Virginia Tech awards including a Dean’s Award for Outstanding New Faculty. Her research expertise includes using motivation and related frameworks to study student engagement in learning, recruitment and retention in engineering programs and careers, faculty teaching practices and intersections of motivation and learning strategies. Matusovich has authored a book chapter, 10 journal manuscripts and more than 50 conference papers.

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This Research Paper investigates the impact of specific contextual factors on self-regulation in self-structured student learning environments. Self-regulated learning (SRL), an important part of student learning success, is a complex process that includes the learner’s beliefs about his or her own learning, motivations, pre-existing knowledge, and cognitive and metacognitive skills. Despite the importance of context to SRL, very little research has specifically examined the contextual factors that impact SRL among college engineering students. To contribute to building a knowledge base of the contextual factors important to SRL among college engineering students, we engaged in an ethnographically-informed study of engineering students who study in teams outside the classroom environment. Time outside the classroom is often structured by the students themselves in response to the requirements of their courses and competing demands. A focus on this self-structured time enables us to consider the specific contextual factors that contribute to students’ SRL within these outside the class environments where they are making choices about learning habits that impact what, where, how and with whom to study. Situated in a larger study, in this analysis we describe one specific example of how context can impact students’ approaches to learning. We used Boekaerts (1992) Model of Adaptable Learning as a lens to view the activities of a student study group on two separate occasions. By comparing these two study group examples, we found that feeling a time crunch can cause students to shift from a mastery mode to a coping mode of learning. While in mastery mode, students tend to exhibit behaviors that are shown to promote deeper learning. In coping mode they are just trying to get done and learning is secondary. This shift in learning mode has a significant impact on self-regulation, and specifically, an impact on metacognitive engagement in these scenarios. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Ellestad, R. M., & Matusovich, H. M. (2017, June), Study Context Matters: A Case Study on How Time Crunches Lead to Coping Modes of Learning Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28875

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