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The Effects of Using Desktop Learning Modules on Engineering Students’ Motivation: A Work in Progress

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Student Experiences and Motivation: ERM Roundtable

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1527.1 - 26.1527.11



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Paper Authors


Olusola O Adesope Washington State University-Pullman

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Dr. Olusola O. Adesope is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at Washington State University, Pullman. His research is at the intersection of educational psychology, learning sciences, and instructional design and technology. His recent research focuses on the cognitive and pedagogical underpinnings of learning with computer-based multimedia resources; knowledge representation through interactive concept maps; meta-analysis of empirical research, and investigation of instructional principles and assessments in STEM.

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Nathaniel Hunsu Washington State University

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Nathaniel Hunsu is currently a Ph.D. candidate of Educational Psychology at the Washington State University. He received a B.Sc. in Electronics and Computer Engineering from the Lagos State University, Nigeria and a M.Sc. in Project Management from University of Sunderland. He is interested in the conceptual change research in science learning. His research emphasis at the time is about how students process textual information for conceptual change in STEM education.

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Bernard J. Van Wie Washington State University

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Prof. Bernard J. Van Wie did his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D., and postdoctoral work at the University of Oklahoma where he also taught as a visiting lecturer. He has been on the Washington State University faculty for 32 years and for the past 18 years has focused on innovative pedagogy research and technical research in biotechnology. His 2007-2008 Fulbright exchange to Nigeria set the stage for him to receive the Marian Smith Award given annually to the most innovative teacher at Washington State University.

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The Effects of Using Desktop Learning Modules on Engineering Students’ Motivation: A Work in ProgressVarious reports have been published during the past decade to highlight a wide range ofproblems with engineering curricula, especially the lecture-dominated form of transmitting coreengineering concepts to students [1-5]. These reports have also shown that students’ motivationin learning engineering concepts continues to wane resulting in reduced interest in engineeringcareers and low student-retention in engineering. Researchers have proposed differentapproaches to tackling this problem [6-7]. This paper provides highlights from a large programof research that is adopting active learning approaches to address the challenges delineatedabove. Specifically, we examine the use of desktop learning modules (DLMs) in fosteringstudent engagement, learning and motivation. More specifically, this research will report on theuse of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire [8; MSLQ] in assessing engineeringstudent motivation and determining the degree to which the DLMs can enhance engineeringstudents’ motivation.Although there are many standardized questionnaires used to assess student motivation to learn,the MSLQ is one of the more widely used in general education research. The MSLQ is a self-report instrument specifically designed to assess students' motivational orientations and their useof different learning strategies. It was designed to focus on the “course level, situated betweenthe very general and global level of all learning situations and the impractical, difficult-to-measure level of transient situations within one course” [9, 15]. As widespread as the use ofMSLQ is in educational research, its use is very limited in engineering education researchalthough it has been recognized as a viable instrument to help uncover student motivation [10].The DLMs used in engineering classrooms were developed as part of a large program ofresearch. The DLMs were designed with hands-on learning modules with base units andconcomitant interchangeable cartridges to communicate core engineering concepts. Extensivedescriptions of the DLMs have been published and presented by our team in previous studies[11-14].The DLMs used in this study is already developed and is currently being used in fluid mechanicsand heat transfer courses. This fall, engineering students’ self-reported motivation and learning isbeing measured by six motivational subscales and three cognitive subscales selected from theMSLQ: intrinsic goal orientation (4 items), extrinsic goal orientation (4 items), task value (6items), control for learning beliefs (4 items), self-efficacy for learning and performance (8 items)and test anxiety (5 items). The three learning strategies subscales being used in this study areelaboration (6 items), critical thinking (5 items), and peer learning (3 items). Participants willrespond to each statement using a 7-point Likert scale (1 = not at all true of me, 7 = very true ofme) in terms of their motivation and learning behavior in the course using the DLMs. We willreport the internal consistency reliabilities (alphas) of these subscales with engineering students.We will also report the correlations between the 6 different motivational subscales and the 3chosen learning strategies subscales as well as the posttest and the midterm exam test in thecourse to examine the robustness of the effect of using the DLMs to facilitate engineeringstudent motivation.In summary, we anticipate this work will open up frontiers of new knowledge about engineeringstudent motivation using hands-on active learning approaches. Future work may strategicallyexplore the degree to which student motivation with the DLMs will predict recruitment andretention of students into the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics domains. References[1] Norman A. (chair), 2005, Rising above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, Washington, D.C.: National Academics Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century.[2] Council of Competitiveness, 2005, Innovate America: Thriving in a World of Challenge and Change, The National Innovation Initiative, Washington, D.C.[3] Duderstadt, J. J., 2005, Engineering Research and America's Future: Meeting the Challenge of a Global Economy, National Academy of Engineering Committee to Assess the Capacity of the United States Engineering Research Enterprise, Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.[4] Clough, G. W., 2004, The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in a New Century, Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Engineering.[5] Sheppard, S. D., Macatangay, K., Colby, A., and Sullivan, W. M., 2009, Educating Engineers: Designing the Future of the Field, Stanford, CA: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[6] Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., and Holubec, E. J., 1990, Circles of Learning: Cooperation in the Classroom, Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.[7] Dym, C. L., Agogino, A. M., Eris, O., Frey, D. D., and Leifer, L. J., 2005, "Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning," Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), pp. 103-120.[8] Pintrich, P. R., Smith, D. A. F., Garcia, T., & McKeachie, W. J. (1991). A manual for the use of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Report No. NSCRIPTAL-91-B-004. National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning. Ann Arbor, MI, USA.[9] Duncan, T. G., & McKeachie, W. J. (2005). The making of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. Educational Psychologist, 40, 117-128.[10] Stump, G. S., Hilpert, J., Husman, J., Chung, W., Kim, W. (2011). Collaborative Learning in Engineering Students: Gender and Achievement. Journal of Engineering Education, 100, 475-497.[11] Authors (2011).[12] Authors (2012).[13] Authors (2013).[14] Authors (2014).[15] Authors (under review).

Adesope, O. O., & Hunsu, N., & Van Wie, B. J. (2015, June), The Effects of Using Desktop Learning Modules on Engineering Students’ Motivation: A Work in Progress Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24865

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