A Mixed Method Study on the Impact of Industry Sponsored Projects on Senior Capstone Design Student’s Motivational Factors
This thesis examines the change in student motivation through a yearlong senior capstone design course with respect to their choice of project type. The senior capstone design projects offered at the university fall into one of two major project types: industry sponsored and nonindustry sponsored. The students opt for either of the two major project types based on their interest and future career goals. The students were given an adapted version of Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) to self-identify their motivation levels by rating various questions on a 7-point Likert scale. The surveys were conducted at two different points in time throughout the yearlong senior capstone design course: at beginning of the fall semester, two weeks into the school year when the students were not fully introduced to their project topics; and again at the end of the spring semester after their projects were completed and the senior capstone design course was concluding. Five motivation factors were studied to examine student motivation within and between the cohorts: cognitive value, self-regulation, presentation anxiety, intrinsic value, and self-efficacy. The data was collected from three cohorts of mechanical engineering senior capstone design students, through three different yearlong senior capstone courses: 2013- 2014, 2014-2015, and 2016-2017. The data was analyzed using an ANOVA Single Factor analysis and a paired t-test for single variance to examine which factors affected student motivation. This thesis further outlines the development of a coding scheme to support the study examining the impact of project type on student motivation and change in motivation through senior capstone design. Exit interviews were conducted with each of the senior capstone design project teams at the end of the spring semester after the conclusion of the senior design course. In a thirty minute interview session, teams were asked a set of nineteen questions regarding their experience throughout the senior design course. The collected interview data from each of the teams was transcribed for analysis. A coding scheme is developed to analyze the qualitative interview data to indicate which of the motivation factors influenced their performance in the course. The data is also analyzed to determine how the student motivation changes over the course of the senior capstone design course based on the student’s project choice (industry-sponsored versus non-industry sponsored). The goal of this research is to examine the effect of the student’s choice of project type on their motivation and changes in motivation in senior capstone design. This will thereby provide educators with insight on the impact of the student’s project selection on their senior capstone design experience. Thus, the aim is to provide a broader perspective on the senior capstone design curriculum by catering the project offerings that positively impact the student’s experience, increasing their motivation and improving their performance in the course.