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Validation of an Interview Protocol to Explore Students' Beliefs about Intelligence

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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

Motivation, Attitudes, and Beliefs

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Allison Adams Kansas State University

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Allison Adams is a graduate student at Kansas State University, in the Mechanical Engineering program.

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Amy Rachel Betz Kansas State University

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Dr. Amy Betz is an Assistant Professor and the director of the Multiphase Microfluidics Laboratory at Kansas State University. She received her PhD from Columbia University and her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the George Washington University. Her research aims to acquire new fundamental understanding of phase-change processes. She is passionate about research, education, and mentoring. She is also committed to creating a more inclusive engineering culture.

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Emily Dringenberg Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Dringenberg is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Ohio State University. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering (Kansas State '08), a MS in Industrial Engineering (Purdue '14) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education (Purdue ’15). Her research is focused on decision-making within the context of engineering design. She is working to leverage engineering education research to shift the culture of engineering to be more inclusive of diverse individuals and more in alignment with current research on decision-making. With a focus on qualitative research methods, she is working to better understand the ways in which undergraduate engineering students experience design and ill-structured problem solving. Her interests also include neuroscience, growth mindset, engineering ethics, and race and gender in engineering. In general, Dr. Dringenberg is always excited to learn new things and work with motivated individuals from diverse backgrounds to improve engineering education.

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The overarching research goal driving this work is to characterize and better understand the beliefs that undergraduate students hold about their own intelligence. The research team will utilize the work of Carol Dweck as a theoretical framework. Dweck’s framework posits two mindsets: fixed and growth. Fixed mindset individuals believe that their intelligence is unchanging, while people with a growth mindset believe that effort can grow and develop greater intelligence. It has been shown in previous studies that individuals of a growth mindset respond better to challenges, are more interested in improving upon past failures, value effort, and perform better in classes than those of a fixed mindset. Guided by this theoretical framework, the research team has drafted an interview protocol. This protocol will be used to conduct one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with students in both their first and fourth years of studying at the university level. The purpose of these interviews is to gain insight into the students’ goals, beliefs about effort, and responses to challenges with a focus on the students’ views of their intelligence, particularly in the context of their experience at school in and out of the classroom. Not only will their beliefs be examined, but also their experiences that have convinced them of these beliefs. This preliminary study will consist of at least four interviews, resulting in validation of the interview protocol as well as some preliminary data with respect to students’ beliefs about the nature of intelligence. The research team will utilize NVivo for qualitative analysis of the preliminary data. Findings will include both the revised interview protocol as well as preliminary themes for student beliefs. This work is important because it will pave the way for further research that follows individual students throughout the process of completing their degrees. The products of this research will provide a template for interviews that can provide access to fundamental, underlying student beliefs.

Adams, A., & Betz, A. R., & Dringenberg, E. (2018, June), Validation of an Interview Protocol to Explore Students' Beliefs about Intelligence Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31221

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