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Researchers develop tool to assess engineering students' motivation

Ohio State’s engineering researchers have created a toolkit for assessing student motivation in team projects. After qualitative and quantitative validation in senior-level capstone design courses at Ohio State, the researchers modified the instruments and are currently piloting them at six other universities.

Prof. Peter Rogers with IBE capstone students

Over the past decade, employers have expressed a growing need for additional skills. According to lead researcher Peter Rogers, professor of practice in the Department of Engineering Education, industry seeks capabilities beyond the traditional technical knowledge of engineering graduates. A summary of inquiries from more than 900 employers show that desired student learning attributes identified most frequently are:

  • Curiosity/continuous learning
  • Teamwork
  • Motivation and self-drive
  • Communication
  • Project management

The researchers chose motivation as the first learning outcome to study and selected capstone courses for evaluation as they best represent authentic industry applications. The development and documentation of students’ motivation, essential to eventual workplace productivity, are generally overlooked in engineering programs.

Rogers and his colleagues expect that curricular changes can improve student motivation and make them more productive team members. These assessment instruments will define the success of such changes. 

In addition to the motivation assessment tools, the research team is developing a process to create and examine assessment tools for other key learning attributes.

Funded by a three-year, $560,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the research was presented in two papers at the 2017 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Conference: Work in Progress: Assessing Motivation in Capstone Design Courses and Early Validation of the Motivation in Team Projects (MTP) Assessment.