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Work in Progress: Measuring Student Cognitive Engagement Using the ICAP Framework In and Outside of the Classroom

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 17: Student Cognitive Development

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Allyson Jo Barlow Oregon State University

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Ally Barlow is a graduate from LeTourneau University where she studied Water Resources in Civil Engineering. She is currently fusing her technical background with her passion for education in pursuing a doctoral degree in Civil Engineering while conducting research in Engineering Education at Oregon State University. Her research interests include student engagement, instrument development, and adoption of teaching best practices in engineering classrooms.

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Shane A. Brown P.E. Oregon State University Orcid 16x16

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Shane Brown is an associate professor and Associate School Head in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. His research interests include conceptual change and situated cognition. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2010 and is working on a study to characterize practicing engineers’ understandings of core engineering concepts. He is a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Engineering Education.

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The following is a Work in Progress paper related to the deployment of an instrument to holistically measure the cognitive engagement of STEM students. Engagement continues to be shown as an important factor in the academic success of STEM students, and therefore of interest to both educators and the research community. Of the components said to make up engagement (behavioral, emotional, and cognitive), cognitive engagement persists as difficult to measure due to its lack of observable characteristics. The ICAP theory proposed by Chi and Wylie uses validated means to link levels of cognitive engagement with overt, observable behaviors in students. While this theory does much to advance teachers’ perceptions of engagement in their own classroom, it is explicitly not a measurement schema. We set out to use the validated link between overt behaviors and cognitive states to develop a tool that allowed students to report on their own cognitive engagement. As the ICAP theory suggests, cognitive engagement is influenced by the environment in which student learning takes place. Despite educators developing curriculum (i.e. homework, projects, writing assignments, etc.) to influence student’s out-of-class environment, cognitive engagement outside the classroom is rarely addressed in the literature on STEM students. One of the unique contributions of our instrument is the measurement of cognitive engagement in two distinct environments: inside the classroom and outside the classroom. We developed a measurement schema that prompted students to report on their in-class engagement and out-of-class engagement for each instrument item. Here we analyze data from over 500 early respondents to our instrument. We use paired t-tests to present preliminary findings, indicating that students have unique responses to in-class and out-of-class items. Our results suggest the importance of a measurement schema that allows for students to report more holistically on their cognitive engagement experience as it relates to a single class. This work has the potential to allow educators to glean information that empowers them to make targeted changes on the curriculum they develop for students inside and outside the classroom.

Barlow, A. J., & Brown, S. A. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Measuring Student Cognitive Engagement Using the ICAP Framework In and Outside of the Classroom Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33637

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