Are engineering students' interests and attitudes to study so different to scientists?

Wilkes, Janelle and Burton, Lorelle and Glencross-Grant, Rex and Albion, Majella (2013) Are engineering students' interests and attitudes to study so different to scientists? In: Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AaeE 2013): Work Integrated Learning-Applying Theory to Practice in Engineering Education, 8-11 Dec 2013, Gold Coast, Australia.

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Results presented in this paper are part of a national project aimed to develop strategies to enhance enrolment, progression, and graduation rates in engineering programs. The implementation of these strategies is hoped to help the critical shortages of engineers in Australia. It is well documented that transition to university study can be difficult for students and with increasingly diverse cohorts it is vital that learning and teaching be aimed at a wide audience. In smaller institutions it is commonplace for engineering students to study the same subjects as students enrolled in other courses. It is important to document the similarities and/or differences in learning approaches and motivations of these different cohorts to determine whether accommodations via adaptive teaching strategies are needed.
The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the interests and motivations to study engineering of first year Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Civil and Environmental) students with those of applied science students.
The project team developed an online battery of self-assessment tests to measure non-cognitive abilities and motivations and interests in studying engineering. A total of 76 first year students at a regional university completed the self-tests. Comparisons between engineering and applied science student profiles allowed the similarities and differences in their respective approaches to learning and career interests to be documented.
Analysis of the data showed that engineering students were significantly less likely to be surface learners than their applied science peers (p < .05). Engineering students also showed significantly higher scores than applied science students on the total measure of interest and motivation for studying engineering (p < .01).
The self-assessments enabled the first year engineering and applied science students to identify their motivations for studying engineering. They also received feedback on their learning approaches. A follow-up class discussion enabled the students to reflect on the benefits and potential limitations of each learning approach. The importance of conversing with students about how to self-manage their learning and being linked to support to address any identified gaps was discussed in the context of experiencing success in first year studies.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2013 Wilkes, Burton, Glencross-Grant and Albion 2013. This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source. Outside of these uses, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the authors.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology, Counselling and Community
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2014 10:33
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2014 06:00
Uncontrolled Keywords: first year; transition; engineering; science; motivation; career interests
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170103 Educational Psychology
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development

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