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The Impact of Teaching Self-Regulated Learning Skills to First Year Engineering Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 5A: Work-In-Progress: 5 Minute Postcard Session I

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First-Year Programs

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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 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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This work in progress paper focuses on the development of a pilot student success course focused on developing the self-regulated learning skills of engineering students. Many students enter the engineering disciplines vastly unprepared to be successful in the rigors of engineering academia. Student retention numbers in engineering are low and some researchers attribute this low retention rate to a lack of academic skills needed to be successful. One theoretical framework that describes these needed academic skills is self-regulated learning. Self-regulated learning (SRL) is the process that a learner goes through to enact and sustain cognitive functioning, behaviors, and metacognitive functioning to reach a set goal or goals. SRL is a complex process that includes the learner’s beliefs about their own learning, motivations, pre-existing knowledge, and cognitive and metacognitive skills. It is a commonly held belief in education that the most effective students in a learning environment are the students who have a high level of awareness about their own knowledge level and take control of their own learning processes; these students are referred to as self-regulated learners. Though there are many different perspectives that provide different views of SRL, in general SRL theorists “view students as metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participants in their own learning process.” A new First Year Studies (FYS) course at the university has been developed specifically for engineering students that focuses on teaching SRL skills. While FYS courses are not new to universities, data has shown that FYS courses are typically underutilized by engineering students, mainly due to their generic nature. Thus, this new course specifically targets engineering students and was designed to meet their needs. A quantitative study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of this new course at developing SRL skills by comparing an experimental and control group of students in a first year engineering course. The experimental group consists of students taking the first year engineering course AND the new FYS course. The control group consists of students only taking the first year engineering course. For the quantitative portion of the study, all participants (control and experimental) were asked to complete a pre and post survey, which consisted of the Motivated Strategies of Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and several demographic questions. The MSLQ was used to categorize students as low, medium, and high self-regulated learners. Participant grades in the first year engineering course were also collected to look at the performance of the control and experimental groups. The quantitative data will be used to determine if the FYS 101 course had a significant impact on the SRL skills and performance of the experimental group when compared to the control group. Data collection for this project is on-going and results will be presented in the full paper.

Ellestad, R. M. (2016, June), The Impact of Teaching Self-Regulated Learning Skills to First Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26182

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