Developing a self-report measure of students' interest and motivation for studying engineering

Burton, Lorelle J. and Albion, Majella J. (2013) Developing a self-report measure of students' interest and motivation for studying engineering. In: AaeE 2013: Work Integrated Learning – Applying Theory to Practice in Engineering Education, 8-11 Dec 2013, Gold Coast, Australia.

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The first year student experience can impact on student retention and progression. Some students choose to withdraw from higher education because of transitional issues relating to mismatched or ill-formed goals or a sense of feeling isolated, rather than intellectual issues. Others might change institutions or enrol in different courses at the same university. The current project was designed to encourage commencing students to engage in career decision making processes before they enrol to ensure they have clear expectations of the courses they will study.

This national project aims to identify the key characteristics of the incoming first year engineering students that influence successful transition to university life and likely success in first year engineering courses.

Commencing students across the five partner universities – the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Queensland, the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Newcastle, and the University of New England – completed a series of self-tests to identify their attitudinal, motivational and cognitive strengths. This paper outlines the process of developing a new 31-item self-report measure of students’ ‘Interest and Motivation for Studying Engineering’ for application in this research project.

Factor analytic results from 285 first-year engineering students indicated that the newly developed self-report measure comprised seven factors: Functional/Creative; Idealistic; Conceptual Engagement; Organised; Inquisitive; Self-efficacy and Career Goals. Regression analyses were used to ascertain which of these factors reliably predict early academic success, as measured by grade point average (GPA) and persistence, respectively. Conceptual Engagement was shown to be a key predictor of GPA in students’ first semester of study. In contrast, the Organised subscale positively added to the prediction of Persistence beyond the Functional/Creative subscale. Further research is warranted to track student progress over time, however, these analyses were beyond the scope of the current paper.

This self-report measure was a component of the non-cognitive Get Set quiz designed to help students better understand the skills and knowledge required in an engineering degree and to be an engineer. It is argued that personalised feedback enables commencing students to self-reflect on their prior experiences, knowledge, and skills and to be better prepared for their engineering studies.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Authors retain copyright.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology, Counselling and Community
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2014 10:17
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2017 04:45
Uncontrolled Keywords: interest and motivation for engineering, student transition, first year student experience
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation

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