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Work in Progress: A Study on Motivation in Teams Using Self Determination Theory

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

First-year Programs: Teams and Teamwork

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Mirna Mattjik Colorado School of Mines

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Mirna Mattjik is a Teaching Associate Professor in the EDS Division, Cornerstone Design@Mines Program. Mirna is also faculty in the Thorson First Year Honors Program, and part of the inaugural teaching cohort. Mirna's formal education is in industrial technology, international political economy, project management and leadership. Her active research agenda is about improving teaching and learning for engineers and applied scientists - which interests include but not limited to: student-centered teaching and learning, pedagogy in design, honors pedagogy and scholarship, diversity and inclusion in higher education, and ethics in engineering. In the classroom, Mirna strives to encourage students’ intrinsic motivation to learn through modeling authenticity in teaching and learning.

Recent scholarships: Nickoloff Scholar in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Daniels Fund Scholar in Engineering Ethics

Recent accolade: University Innovation Fellows (UIF) Mines Faculty Champion

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Megan Sanders Colorado School of Mines Orcid 16x16

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Megan Sanders is the Senior Assessment Associate at the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center at the Colorado School of Mines. Using her background in educational psychology, she supports faculty in conducting classroom-based research and supports departments in program-level student learning outcome assessment.

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In our first year engineering design course, students are put into teams to solve open-ended, complex problems. Each section enrolls 25 students, and we have at least 21 sections per semester. The course belongs to the Engineering, Design, and Society Division; where we employ design engineering in-context of the stakeholders’ perspective and the techno-social implications of design. Despite being an important skill, teamwork is often challenging for students to develop. In an effort to support students in developing effective teamwork skills, we developed and piloted three psychological safety modules in one section of this course during the Fall 2019 semester. Cultivating psychological safety in a team allows for each team member to freely share their ideas without judgment, hence they are likely to feel safe and thrive in a team environment. We hypothesize that participating in these modules will help students feel more competent, autonomous, and connected--the three basic needs identified in Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory of motivation--and thus more motivated to engage in the team. To evaluate this, we administered a version of the Basic Psychological Needs Scale that we modified to focus on students’ perceptions within their groups. We administered the survey before students engaged in the three modules (pre), again shortly after students engaged in the modules (post), and will administer the survey a final time at the end of the semester (delayed post). This will allow us to see longitudinal changes in students’ motivation within their teams. Additionally, we are also collecting qualitative data from anonymous review of peers in their team, through peer evaluations in mid and end of semester. Peer review is done through Purdue University’s CATME tool. Cross examination between results from the quantitative and qualitative methods will create a composite view for the study. Fall 2019 is the first semester for data collection, to test the robustness of our methods and the surveying tool. We are continuing data collection in the Spring 2020 and the following academic year; in an effort to research best practice for inclusive team development. This study is also a product of the primary author’s Nickoloff Fellowship in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Colorado School of Mines.

Mattjik, M., & Sanders, M. (2020, June), Work in Progress: A Study on Motivation in Teams Using Self Determination Theory Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35603

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