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Why Motivation Matters: The Relationship Between Motivation to Go to College, Effort, and Academic Performance in Early Engineering Courses

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Metacognition, Self-Efficacy, and Motivation #2

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

20

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35514

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35514

Download Count

475

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Paper Authors

biography

Woo J. Kim Miami University

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Woo J. Kim is a doctorate student in the Social Psychology program at Miami University. His research explores how "if only" thoughts affect motivation and behavior and how people respond to ostracism.

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Brielle Nikole Johnson Miami University

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Brielle Johnson is a graduate student in the Social Psychology program of the Department of Psychology at Miami University. She earned her B.S. from Grand Valley State University with a double major in Psychology and Sociology. Her research interests include issues related to social class and areas of existential psychology and counterfactual thinking.

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Jennifer Blue Miami University

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Jennifer Blue is a Professor of Physics at Miami University. She works to give more people access to physics. Sometimes that’s reforming the curriculum for introductory classes, sometimes it’s working with K-12 science teachers, and sometimes it’s advocating for traditionally excluded populations, including women in STEM. Her website can be found here: http://www.users.miamioh.edu/bluejm/.

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Amy Summerville Miami University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-6409-8233

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Dr. Summerville is a Senior Research Scientist at Kairos research. She was previously an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Miami University. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Summerville is a social psychologist whose research examines how thoughts of "what might have been" affect emotion, motivation, and behavior. She was the PI of a grant from NSF's EEC division investigating new interventions in engineering education that utilize social cognitive psychology.

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Brian P. Kirkmeyer Miami University

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Brian Kirkmeyer is the Karen Buchwald Wright Senior Assistant Dean for Student Success and Instructor in the College of Engineering and Computing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His background includes BS, MS and PhD degrees in Materials Science and Engineering (specialization in polymers), the former from Purdue University and the latter two from the University of Pennsylvania. He has work experiences in automotive electronics (Delphi Automotive Systems) and consumer products (International Flavors and Fragrances) prior to his current role. He served on the executive committee of the ASEE Women in Engineering division from 2010 to present.

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Abstract

Motivation is an important component in predicting a variety of academic outcomes such as performance, persistence, and learning (Elliott & Dweck, 1988; Vallerand, Pelletier, Blais, Briere, Senecal, & Vallieres, 1992). Additionally, the source of students’ motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic (Gagné & Deci, 2005). Intrinsic motivation involves doing an activity because of satisfaction derived from the activity itself, whereas extrinsic motivation involves an activity as being instrumental in achieving some reward not inherent to the activity. In the current research, we tested to see how motivations to go to college were related to effort and performance in early engineering courses.

We invited students enrolled in early engineering courses via email to participate in an online study. After their first exams, 78 participants reported their exam grade and motivation to go to college. They were also randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In the intention condition, we asked students to write about specific strategies they could use to be more successful in the course. In the control task, they wrote about their thoughts and feelings regarding the remainder of the course. In two follow-up surveys administered later in the semester, students rated how many days they used specific strategies (e.g., “Reviewed slides or handouts from class.”). At the end of the semester, course instructors provided final grades.

We explored the associations of motivation to go to college with course effort (i.e.., implementing specific study strategies) and performance (i.e., final course grade). We found that final grades were positively correlated with identification, or the extent that going to college was personally important to the student. Therefore, students who identify personal importance in going to college received better grades. In contrast, grades were negatively correlated with amotivation, or the state of lacking motivation to go to college. Further, the number of days students spent using specific study strategies was positively correlated with both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to go to college. That is, regardless of the source of motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic), greater motivation was related to increased efforts. Students who were intrinsically motivated reported using the most study strategies. The only type of motivation unrelated to course effort was when students were motivated by external rewards. Unfortunately, course efforts did not predict final grades. However, we found some evidence that the intention task may have buffered the negative effects of amotivation. Students assigned to the intention task were not affected by amotivation, whereas those in the control task received worse final grades when they were more amotivated.

Based on our findings that personal importance of going to college is related to course performance, instructors should promote to students that higher education is valuable for their success. Additionally, our intention condition shows preliminary evidence that generating specific study strategies may buffer some negative effects for amotivated students.

References

Elliott, E. S., & Dweck, C. S. (1988). Goals: An approach to motivation and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(1), 5.

Gagné, M., & Deci, E. L. (2005). Self‐determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(4), 331-362.

Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., Blais, M. R., Briere, N. M., Senecal, C., & Vallieres, E. F. (1992). The Academic Motivation Scale: A measure of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52(4), 1003-1017.

Kim, W. J., & Johnson, B. N., & Blue, J., & Summerville, A., & Kirkmeyer, B. P. (2020, June), Why Motivation Matters: The Relationship Between Motivation to Go to College, Effort, and Academic Performance in Early Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35514

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